The way I see it, wherever and whenever possible, people should learn to swim.
Now let’s look at my particular experience: I learnt to swim when I was twenty years old. Now that is embarrassing in the context of Nevis, where lovely beaches are abundant.
After all, I grew up in a restrictive type family and we were not allowed to go to Huggins Bay and Dog Bay like the other guys in the village.
As a matter of fact, we were not allowed to go anywhere without proper supervision…. and only for a specific period of time.
So, at age twenty, I still could not swim.
One day, a group of us decided to go to the beach. On that day, we chose to go to Gallows Bay.
While we were in the water, I was very comfortable as I basically just soaked in the water. However, as I looked up the Bay, I saw a number of persons walking in our general direction. One of them was RAFFIE Wallace. Now if you don’t know RAFFIE Wallace, well, you just won’t understand but I knew that I could not let on to RAFFIE that I could not swim.
So, I waded further out to as far as I could tip toe and kept my head above water and I moved my hands and acted as if I was swimming, even though I was really walking.
The group passed by, RAFFIE included. Not a word was said. It was if we did not exist.
However, later that same day, as I showed up at Grove Park to witness a cricket match, RAFFIE stood up from the main pavilion area and humiliated me.
He told everybody that I could not swim and how I was pretending that I could. I felt bad. I felt hurt.
Well I newa!
I quietly made my exit from the Park, by jumping one of the walls.
The next day, I searched out a gentleman who we referred to as JOB and I beseeched him to teach me to swim. He willingly obliged and asked me to meet him at Gallows bay at 5am the next day.
I met him at the appointed time and for several weeks thereafter, we had a similar appointment.
JOB was patient and he taught me to swim.
Some months later a few of us were swimming at Oualie Beach and I saw Raffie.
I told him: ‘You say ah can’t swim, let’s go out no!’ RAFFIE’s response shocked me: ‘Out dey mek for fish!’
And so on the eve of the of the 45th anniversary of the Christena Disaster, I implore all of my readers to learn to swim. I know some smart person will tell me that some persons who were on the boat drowned, even though they could swim and persons who could not swim, were saved.
However, I still maintain that we should all learn to swim. We may never know when such skills may hold us in good stead.
Sympathies to all who lost family members. I lost a close cousin and almost every family on the island was affected.
You are not too old to learn and the younger you start…the better.
That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?