Lifeguards perform CPR on a ‘victim’ during a recent demonstration at Enterprise Beach.??

For seven weeks this summer, Barbadians will have the opportunity to learn vital swimming and life skills.

The opportunity will come via the National Conservation Commission’s (NCC)??learn-to-swim programme, dubbed: "Operation S.O.S – Save Our Selves".

The initiative will commence on Wednesday, July 15, and culminate on Friday, August 28. ??It will be held on Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Browne’s Beach, St. Michael and Folkestone Beach, St. James.

Operation S.O.S., which?? forms part of the ??NCC’s?? community outreach/ public education programme, will include lectures on drowning prevention; the do’s and don’ts of water safety; understanding currents, wind and waves; as well as understanding and interpreting flags and beach signage.

Interested persons 10 years and older are invited to register at the NCC’s Codrington, St. Michael Headquarters from now until next Thursday, July 9.

According to the NCC’s Special Projects Officer, Ricardo Marshall, the programme was designed to acquaint participants with the experience of ocean swimming and its hazards, while exposing them to an environment that would teach respect for the marine environment in an effort to foster more responsible behaviour.

"On completion, participants should be able to swim (save themselves), identify and understand some of the threats that may be encountered in the aquatic environment. They are expected to leave with a greater understanding and respect for the marine environment gained by daily physical contact, and through lectures and discussion on pertinent marine and aquatic topics," Mr. Marshall explained.

The NCC has advised that learning to swim is a skill that can be very useful throughout a person’s life. According to the commission, swimming is not only a great way to keep fit, but it is a life-saving skill, since it is an important preventative measure against accidental drowning.

Additionally, the Commission has charged that knowledge of the aquatic environment, and how to be safe in and around it, was essential for all beach goers and citizens in general, especially in a small island of 166 square miles, surrounded by water.

For additional information, persons may contact Mr. Marshall at the NCC at 425-1200, or Lifeguard Instructor at Folkestone Park & Marine Reserve, Dave Bascombe, at telephone numbers 432-8177 or 422-2871 or by cell at 231-4981.

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