Amid talk of countless drownings, a physical education teacher in central Vietnam decided to harness his skills to prevent further avoidable tragedies.
Every afternoon at four, groups of local children in Hai Lang District of Quang Tri Province gather at an irrigation canal of Hai Hung Commune to join a swimming class run by Nguyen Viet Tuoc, 45, a PE teacher at local Hai Vinh Primary and Secondary School.
The canal is about 5 meters wide, and an adult can easily stand in the middle of the stream with their shoulders and head above the water.To support the lesson, Tuoc has placed three bamboo stalks across the open ground.
When the class started, a group of six to eight children clung to a bamboo tree and practiced kicking with their feet and splashing water in the face of the Thief.
After the warm-up, the different groups practiced a short swim between the bamboo groves until the sun went down at 6pNS.NS.
Nguyen Viet Tuoc (wearing blue cap) instructs children on how to swim in an irrigation canal of Hai Hung Commune, Hai Hung District, Quang Tri Province, June 2020.VnExpress / Hoang Tao's photo.
Eight years ago, Tuoc was compelled to start the free swimming classes after learning of the many drowning related deaths in the vicinity.
"The victims were all my students," he said.
After surveying a number of lakes in the area, finding it unsuitable, the PE teacher finally chose an irrigation channel, which is ideal because of its clean water, stable flow, and safe depth.
Mr. Tuoc said: “At first, not many parents dared to send their children to school, but after a few classes, they could not argue because of the rapid progress.”
A student practises kicking his feet under Tuoc's guidance at an irrigation canal in Hai Hung Commune, Hai Hung District of Quang Tri Province, June 2020.VnExpress / Hoang Tao's photo.
During the course, besides learning the correct way to swim, kids are also taught to stay away from the water and scream for help when witnessing a drowning, instead of attempting a solitary rescue. Each student normally attends 10 to 15 sessions before being able to swim proficiently over a distance of 10 to 15 NS.
Over the past few years, an average of 160 to 180 children, mostly elementary school students, have attended the Stripe course each summer, with about 1,500 students capable of swimming.
PE teachers are no longer alone in providing each lesson, with parents and some volunteers now also participating in equipment or snacks.
Sitting on the shore watching the children in grade 2 and grade 4, Mr. Nguyen Duc Nghia, 70, said he appreciated Mr. Tuoc's companionship efforts as a swimming coach.
"Thanks to the class, local children can now swim and survive the many floods that hit the area," he said.
A group of students watch their peers take on the water at an irrigation canal in Hai Hung Commune, Hai Hung District, Quang Tri Province in June 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Tao
Alongside other central provinces, Quang Tri suffers serious floods due to rain, especially in late summer.
Participating in the course for more than 3 consecutive summers, Nguyen Huy Hoang, a 5th grader said: “Now I can swim thanks to Tuoc.I also know what to do in case I see a friend of mine drowning."
After eight summers, Tuoc is happy to report Hai Hung Commune has recorded zero cases of child drownings.
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