Seniors take the plunge into learning water survival skills

Alycia Lim
Alycia Lim
Seniors participate in swimming lessons at the SwimSafer Club in Woodlands.

On Saturday mornings at the Woodlands Swimming Complex, a group of senior citizens gather to learn water survival skills.

For an hour, the basic learners pick up skills such as underwater breathing while the more advanced learners can be seen swimming laps. They are able to learn such skills thanks to an initiative of the North West SwimSafer Club for Seniors.

A brainchild of the North West District mayor and National Water Safety Council chairman Teo Ho Pin, the club was set up to provide an avenue for senior citizens to embrace a healthy and enriching lifestyle through swimming and social interaction.

“Safe swimming and water survival are crucial lifesaving skills when it comes to emergency situations like flooding,” he said.

The club held its first session in Sembawang in March 2014, with 13 new members.

It follows the same syllabus as the SwimSafer programme for children, which consists of six stages. To date, a total of 488 seniors have completed stage one of the programme.

One of the pioneers of the programme, Asiah Hassan, 56, said she almost drowned as a young girl when she fell into a huge drain in her village on three separate occasions. Today, she is confident of taking a dip into the pool.

SwimSafer coach Ivan Loh said his elderly students are quick to master new skills, with some already being to swim by their fourth lesson.

“It is very encouraging to see them progress, and I am very happy to see that each time they come, they become more confident in the water,” he said.

Another participant, Florence Tan, 65, said she is now healthier and leads a more active social life thanks to the programme.

Teo said, “We hope that seniors who have benefitted through this programme can share their experience with others.

“I hope that more seniors can come forward to learn swimming as it is an important lifeskill.”