Swimming their way towards the Olympics

Just imagine… Anguillians… one day competing in Olympic swimming. While this may seem like a dream, we have already seen the likes of Zharnel Hughes on the international stage, so we know this can be possible.

Mr Joseph William, Swimming Instructor and Founder of Learn To Swim Programme, and the Anguilla Aqua Swim Club are hoping to have our children participate in competitions soon. In 2012, Mr William started the swimming programme to give back to the community.

“There were a few challenges, but we are now 9 years with 75 children in the programme. We started with 10 or 15 and we’re at 75.”

Mr Joseph Williams

“This is my way of giving back. I got my training and certificate from the Anguilla Red Cross and I felt there was a need, especially for the young children, to know the proper techniques of swimming.”

Mr William is ably assisted by Mr Keith Robinson and Mr Frank Cannon. These are the only 3 persons in the region who are Learn To Swim Water Safety Instructor Trainer Educators who can certify individuals to teach swimming.  

The trio received their certification from the American Red Cross/Anguilla Red Cross. They are further assisted by other swimming instructors namely Mr Devon Carter, Ms Deanna Richardson and Ms Prudence Joy Williams.

“Presently, there are two clubs, The Learn to Swim Programme and The Anguilla Aqua Swim Club,” Mr William continued.

“Learn To Swim Programme is a parent-child programme where the parents accompany the kids in the water under the age of 5 up to level 4.

Once you reach level 4, and once you can swim, the other club, The Anguilla Aqua Swim Club, is an avenue for you to continue swimming where we do more long-distance, endurance swimming and hopefully competitive type swimming – that is the idea for the two clubs.”

At the iFitness Center, where the swimming classes are being held, the children have fun in the pool. They also get the opportunity to go to the beach where they are exposed to the seawater.

“The fear of water is the fear of drowning, the fear of drowning is the fear of death. If you know how to float and how to swim, you will realize that the water is not your enemy.”

— Mr Joseph William

While Mr William said they have adult classes for persons over 18, they more focused on the kids.

“The Aqua Swim Club is for kids to get them on a competitive level,” he said.

Asked what inspires him to give his services, he simply responded, “The kids. When you have a child for the first time on the step afraid of the water, to take away that fear, see the progress later on, and witness that child swim from one end to another end – you can’t pay me for that,” he remarked smiling.

The Swimming Instructor also believes it is important for persons to learn to swim.

“The fear of water is the fear of drowning, the fear of drowning is the fear of death. If you know how to float and how to swim, you will realize that the water is not your enemy,” he went on. You’re your own enemy because you can’t swim, so you’ll be panicking when you could be doing something to save yourself.”

Anguilla is blessed to have Mr William and the other swimming instructors who are molding our children who have the potential to become professional athletes in the future. The swimming instructors are hoping to get some sponsors so they can have a facility of their own.

“Currently, we have 66 kids on the waiting list and 75 children in the swimming programme. So, we need a bigger facility,” Mr William said.

“We also engage with Carib Swim Club in St Martin. Before COVID-19 last year, in February, we went to the complex and the kids got a chance to experience the 50m pool and swim in it. So, the collaboration is there; we haven’t been able to travel but that is the idea for having the kids in the club.”

“When we go to the ocean, we have them swimming longer distances. We have the kids doing stuff that sometimes even I may struggle with. They are doing it every Saturday. We teach them – and they get better than me – that is what I like! The fact that they could beat me on certain things, shows they are progressing well!” he laughed.

Currently, the students utilise the pool at iFitness Center in Tackling. A fee of US$10 a month is only required for the upkeep of the pool. The swimming instructors offer the programme for free to the students, who will one day compete on the international stage. We look forward to that day when we can cheer on our very own in the Olympics.

You can reach the Anguilla Aquastars via telephone at (264)772-1342 or e-mail: Aquastarsanguilla@gmail.com and follow them on Facebook – Anguilla Aquastars.

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