Les Dauphins de la Mer Swim School, Guadeloupe

Les Dauphins de la Mer Swim School, Guadeloupe

Having been born and raised on a Caribbean island, it’s hard for me to believe that most of the world can’t swim. Even if I hadn’t spent 12 of my earliest years competing on a swim team, I’m sure that the surrounding seas would’ve compelled me to learn to swim, right? Actually, probably not.

The World Can’t Swim

In the lead up to the first-ever World Drowning Prevention Day, I was shocked to discover that more than half of the world’s population has no idea how to swim! I’m talking four billion people!

This, of course, results in a lot of needless tragedies. An estimated 370,000+ people die from drowning each year, making drowning the third leading cause of unintentional injury deaths.

The statistics staggered me a bit, but then I remembered my parents. Like me, they were born and raised on a Caribbean island (Trinidad). Still, it was us kids who, armed with our swim team training, would eventually teach them how to swim.

The truth is, most of the world can’t swim, and that includes those of us in the Caribbean. All of this makes swim schools like Les Dauphins de la Mer all the more important.

Les Dauphins de la Mer

I happened upon their colorful beach shack while exploring Le Gosier in Guadeloupe a few years ago. The school is based at the old, defunct Hôtel Calinago. Even if the hotel was still open, though, you won’t find students splashing around the pool.

Instead, Les Dauphins de la Mer uses a sheltered cove just off the beach. A line of boulders strategically placed in the sea keeps swells at a minimum. This allows for safety and ease in instruction.

It also allows for lots of fun. I strayed way longer than I intended here watching as scores of kids were led in and out of the water for their lessons. There was lots of laughter, broad smiles, and mischief. The whole scene took me back to my earliest swim team days. The biggest difference, of course, was that we had an Olympic-size pool.

Watching as the kids at Les Dauphins de la Mer reveled in the more natural beach and sea setting, I almost wished that we hadn’t.

How To Help The World Learn to Swim

Can’t swim, but would like to learn? Or maybe you want to assist others in developing swimming skills? Either way, check out the USA Swimming Foundation. A charitable arm of USA Swimming, the Foundation connects people with water safety and swim instruction resources. 

For more details, visit USA Swimming online.

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