With the current temperatures in China and the Netherlands, not too many people would be thinking of swimming. It’s more of a summer thing. I do want to bring up this topic now, though. Because many people in China can’t swim. And that’s bad.
When I went to primary school in the Netherlands, swimming lessons were organised through the school. By the way, the reason that Dutch people are so tall has to do with the fact that a large part of the Netherlands is below sea level. Just in case the dykes break, nature has made sure we’re tall enough to keep our heads above water.
All joking aside now; China sees many serious accidents each year because people can’t swim. The other day, a child fell into the water. The child couldn’t swim, so a relative jumped in to save it, but he couldn’t swim either and wasn’t aware of how deep the water actually was. Subsequently, another relative, who couldn’t swim either, jumped in. And this just went on and on until seven people had drowned.
Another incident happened not too far away from us. A boat with six people on board was sailing a little too close to the river’s waterworks. The currents of the moving water caused the little boat to capsize and all passengers drowned.
These are very tragic stories and it’s not as if the Chinese don’t like water. On sunny days, people flock to swimming pools and beaches. I noticed that a whole new market has opened up in these places: swimming aids for adults. A bit of a strange sight though, all these grown-up men floating around the pool with their water wings.
Swimming lessons are becoming more and more popular. No school swimming, but commercial swimming lessons. And they’re not for softies. Anyone who flounders to the edge of the pool because he/she is struggling to reach the other side, is simply pushed back into the water with a long stick. Off you go and swim!
I’m not a terribly good swimmer myself, I can manage the basics. But my boys love the water. They’ve got a whole collection of swimming diplomas including diving certificates. It’s great to see them enjoy the water so much. But the most important thing for me is that they know how to keep their heads above the surface.