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Jun 24 17

U.S. team wins first gold at FINA Synchro America Open, May & Spendlove lead mixed duet tech, Carbonell prevails in solo tech Synchro World Series 2017

by ZwemZa

On Day 2 of the FINA Synchro World Series in New York, the U.S., Canada, and Argentina finished 1-2-3 in the team event to earn the first senior medals at the America Open.

But Friday began with the highly-anticipated mixed duet technical program in which the 2015 world champion Bill May of the U.S. and his new partner, Kanako Spendlove, took the top score with a steamy routine that earned them a commanding lead (86.3349 points). After that, Ona Carbonell of Spain crushed the field in all three components of the solo technical program (execution, impression, and elements) to take first place.

For May, however, the America Open was a homecoming. He last competed in his home state in 1999 and, before that, at the 1998 Goodwill Games in the very same venue: the Nassau County Aquatics Center.

With his family watching, May and Spendlove debuted a routine that a female spectator accurately called “spicy, spicy, spicy” – for everything from its intimate deck work to its fiery red costumes to its choice of music (“Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing” by Chris Isaak).

Afterwards, their U.S. coach, Chris Carver, was pleased but felt there was still room to improve their elements and synchronization. “That’s why we’re here,” Carver said. “It’s the first time they’ve ever swam it in public, first time they’ve ever swam together in a technical program.”

Bill May and Kanako Spendlove (USA) win mixed duet tech program – Photo by Liz Corman

The new Canadian duo of Robert Prevost and Isabelle Blanchet-Rampling, took second place (79.2398) with a program inspired by a fight between angels and demons.

“It felt great!” Blanchet-Rampling said in the cool-down pool afterwards. “The energy here has been crazy-fun. We’re very excited for [the free program] tomorrow. Our coaches are already onto what we need to do next. This is a great step for us.”

Meanwhile, Germany’s Niklas Stoepel (who is working on his master’s degree in mechanical engineering) and Amelie Ebert (a medical student) turned in their best mambo-themed technical performance to date, earning 70.7847 points for third place.

“Our goal was to reach 70 points so it’s quite good,” Ebert said, “but we want to go [up] for Worlds.

About an hour later, in the solo technical program, Carbonell convincingly transformed herself into a snake in a creative routine that scored 90.3424 points. The Spaniard’s two-minute serpentine program was the brainstorm of her French coach, Virginie Dedieu. “She said I’m really flexible so she thinks that it’s a really good thematic for my body,” Carbonell said.

Regarding the performance itself, Carbonell said, “I’m happy because my elements were better than at the last World Series [stop in Spain]. I can do the last element more explosive, but it’s better.”

Ona Carbonell (ESP) wins solo tech program – Photo by Liz Corman

Taking second place (with 87.9708 points) in the solo technical event, Canada’s Jacqueline Simoneau proved once again to be an amazingly quick and successful study with a routine that she and her old synchro coach, Johana Vasquez, only whipped up last week.

“We had a lot of changes in Synchro Canada…I’m really happy to be back with her,” said Simoneau of the reunion with her coach earlier in June. For Friday’s tech program, she explained, “We took the Red Violin music that I used in 2011. Violin is the instrument that I absolutely adore! I used to play it when I was little. So the routine was so easy to make, because I was so passionate. It pieced together really well and we decided to compete with it this week. This is the solo routine I’ll swim in Budapest [at Worlds].

Anita Alvarez of the U.S. ranked third with a score of 80.5843.

Finally, in a highly-entertaining team free event, the U.S. closed the night with a winning routine to the rhythms of Africa.  Canada’s young NextGen team placed second with a “We the North” theme that wove the music of Drake under more-traditional synchro music. Canadian coach Jennifer Koptie called it “their best swim” and co-coach Kasia Kulesza said it was “a great accomplishment” because they had only been together for four weeks.  Argentina placed third, just as it had in the tech program on Thursday, with an enthusiastic eye on its future.

USA wins Team gold on Day 2 of America Open – Photo by Liz Corman

Final scores: Team event

1. USA –  166.2664 (84.9000 free + 81.3664 tech)
2. Canada –  163.2074 (84.2667 free + 78.9407 tech)
3. Argentina –  153.3469 (78.9000 free + 74.4469 tech)

Aimee Berg, FINA Press Correspondent

Jun 24 17

Semi-finals in sight in Ruza

by ZwemZa

water-polo 6The 2017 FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final in Ruza is approaching its climax as the Competition Day 4 confirmed the list for the semi-finals.

Reigning crown Serbia earned its semi-finals trip easily against Japanese, 19-10, and tomorrow shall meet the USA, which will be a re-play of the last year’s gold final. Defending vice-champion in their turn, knocked out Russia en route to the semies, seding their home crowd in despair, 8-6. Another fantastic battle will see the 2016 Olympic medalists Croatia and Italy, as in the quarter-finals they routed Kazakhstan, 19-3, and Australia, 13-5, respectively.

FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final 2017

Competition results

Day 4 24 June, 2017 / Competition Day 4 / Quarter-finals

Game 13. 2A – 3B ITA Italy – AUS Australia 13-5 (3-1, 4-2, 4-1, 2-1)

Game 14. 1A – 4B SRB Serbia – JPN Japan 19-10 (4-1, 6-0, 4-3, 5-6)

Game 16. 4A – 1B KAZ Kazakhstan – CRO Croatia 3-19 (0-6, 2-3, 0-6, 1-4)

Game 14. 3A – 2B USA United States of America – RUS Russian Federation 8-6 (2-1, 4-2, 2-1, 0-2)

Competition schedule of the Competition Day 5 / Semi-finals

Game 17. 16:00 L13 – L16 AUS Australia – KAZ Kazakhstan

Game 18. 17:20 L14 – L15 RUS Russian Federation – JPN Japan

Game 19. 18:40 W13 – W16 ITA Italy – CRO Croatia

Game 20. 20:00 W14 – W15 SRB Serbia – USA United States of America

Olga Kamardina, FINA Correspondent

Jun 24 17

Three former women champions arrive in Setubal

by ZwemZa
Ana Marcela Cunha (Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia)

Ana Marcela Cunha (Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia)

Three former winners in the women’s race will also compete in the 2017 FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup kicking-off in Setubal on 24 June. Ana Marcela Cunha from Brazil left two times the bay of the Atlantic Ocean in front of the Parque Urbano de Albarquel as first: in 2008 and 2014. Cunha will compete in the 11th edition of the event in Setubal with Angela Maurer from Germany, winner in 2011 and the Olympic runner-up Rachele Bruni from Italy.

Ana Marcela Cunha, Kazan bronze medaillist, is the only one woman who could win a second time in Setubal. In the men’s race, twelve-time World champion and meanwhile retired Thomas Lurz from Germany was a two-time winner in Setbual: 2009 and 2010. Last year the Chinese Lijun Zu for the men and Xin Xin in the women’s event celebrated a double victory.

The 1975 born Angela Maurer and former two-time World champion is the oldest competitor in the 2017 edition of the 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup in Setubal. Also in the men’s event the Germans will have with the last year runner-up Christian Reichert (1985), Alexander Studzinski (1983) and Andreas Waschburger (1987) the oldest participants in the water.

For the Germans, the two World Cup events in Abu Dhabi and Setubal are their national qualification for the 10km event at the World Championships.

The winners at the premiere of the World Cup in Setubal have been Alan Bircher (Great Britain) and Jana Pechanova (Czech Republic) in 2006. Both could celebrate at the Avenida José Mourinho. The street at the Parque Urbano de Albarquel is named after the famous son of the City of Setubal: the wellknown football trainer.

Hans-Peter Sick, FINA Media Committee

Jun 24 17

Outspoken US swimmer Lilly King refuses to stay in her lane

by ZwemZa
United States' Lilly King celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's 100-meter breaststroke final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in this Aug. 8, 2016 (AP).

United States’ Lilly King celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in this Aug. 8, 2016 (AP).

Lilly King has always been one to speak her mind.

If it rubs people the wrong way, so be it.

“That’s just who she is,” said her dad, Mark King. “It’s not a show for the media. It’s not a show for television. It’s authentic.”

The 20-year-old made quite an impression at last year’s Rio Olympics, calling out Russian star Yulia Efimova for a history of doping violations, and she has no intention of holding her tongue heading into another summer of big meets.

The U.S. nationals begin Tuesday in Indianapolis, leading up to next month’s world championships at Budapest, Hungary.

In the staid world of swimming, where the idea of staying in your lane usually extends beyond the pool, King is one of the most outspoken exceptions.

“It’s a very P.C., country club kind of sport,” King said, rolling her eyes. “I’m not very P.C. or country club myself.”

Even before she won an Olympic gold medal, King’s college coach knew she wasn’t the average swimmer — in or out of the water.

“That’s what I was afraid of when I first met her,” Ray Looze of Indiana University said bluntly. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is going to be a handful.’ She was fairly outspoken. She has a real good sense of right and wrong. She can’t stand cheaters and dopers. They just rub her the wrong way.”

King made that clear to the entire world last summer when she faced Efimova, the reigning world champion and a symbol of Russia’s massive doping operation, a swimmer who had already served a 16-month suspension and was allowed to compete despite another positive test.

The young American glared at her rival, wagged a finger, treated her with complete disdain. She flatly stated that Efimova — and those like her — had no business at the Olympics. Then, King went out and beat her .

It had the feel of an MMA fight, not a swimming race.

For King, it was merely the right thing to do. If she faces Efimova again in Budapest, there won’t be any backing down.

“It’s sad someone has to say it,” King grumbled. “We shouldn’t have to say, ‘Hey, don’t cheat.’ That’s kind of idiotic to me that I even have to be the person to do that. But I’m fine with it. It’s really not that hard of a job. Just reciting facts.”

Also, having a rival such as Efimova tends to bring out the best in King. Growing up in Evansville, Indiana, one of her favorite athletes was renowned NBA trash talker Reggie Miller, who starred for the home-state Pacers.

She still gushes when she talks about getting a chance to befriend Miller after the Olympics.

“I’m an Indiana girl, and he’s like the trash-talk idol,” King said, breaking into a huge smile. “We actually got to hang out a little bit. He’s my buddy now. We’ve got each other’s back.”

Sometimes, King goes a bit too far.

At the NCAA championships, Looze cringed when he heard King explain her success by flatly declaring that she trains harder than anyone else.

The coach pulled her aside afterward for a little chat.

“Lilly, that may be true,” Looze told her. “But please think about how that comes out. You’ve already got a target on your back, trust me.”

King pondered the advice ever so briefly, then came back with a retort that epitomized her feisty nature.

“Yeah, but I swim better that way,” she insisted.

Looze couldn’t really argue with that.

He also knows that King has plenty to say about issues beyond swimming.

“That political election last year, man, I knew not to bring that up,” Looze said, chuckling. “Let’s just put it this way: She was bitterly disappointed with the election.”

King’s father points to a very specific time when Lilly’s confidence merged with her burgeoning swimming career. She was 12 years old, just coming off a bit of a growth spurt, when she headed to the state age-group championships seeded in the top 10 in the 100 breast.

“I’m gonna win, I’m gonna win,” the youngster kept saying over and over between sessions.

Lilly’s parents chuckled at her bravado.

“You want your child to be confident,” Mark King said. “We’re like, ‘OK, hun. Just do your best. Whatever happens, happens.’ Well, she went out and won. I think that’s kind of the point when she connected positive thinking with positive performance. It never really left her after that.”

Like many Olympic athletes, King went through a letdown after Rio. At the short course world championships last December, she was upset by Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson in the 100 breast.

“She wasn’t in the best shape and she got beat,” Looze said. “I think it was the best thing for her.”

Like flipping a switch, King stepped up her training and quickly regained the form that brought her a gold medal. She’s got her sights on breaking the world record in the 100 breast, currently held by Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte with a time of 1 minute, 4.35 seconds, at the 2013 world championships. King’s winning time in Rio was more than a second slower.

She also wants to show major improvement in the 200 breast by the time the next Olympics roll around. King qualified for the longer event in Rio, but failed to even make it through to the final.

Looze can’t wait to see her performance in Budapest.

“Right now, she looks as good as she’s ever looked. She’s in a great place mentally, recharged, excited,” the coach said. “She’s really excited to go to Budapest. She wants to race Yulia again, and whoever else comes along.”

Rest assured, King will let everyone know what’s on her mind.

Wonder what she’ll say next?

Associated Press

Jun 23 17

U.S. World University Games Open Water team announced

by ZwemZa
Becca Mann (Team USA)

Becca Mann (Team USA)

Four swimmers have been selected represent Team USA in the 10-kilometer open water event at the 2017 World University Games, USA Swimming announced today.

The roster includes Becca Mann, Katy Campbell, David Heron and Taylor Abbott.

The team was selected based on the results of the USA Swimming Open Water National Championships held at Castaic Lake, California.

The 2017 World University Games will hold the 10K open water race on Saturday, August 27, at the New Taipei City Breeze Canal in Taiwan.

Prior to this event, Heron and Mann will also represent Team USA at the 2017 FINA World Championships from July 15-16 and July 18-21 at Lake Balaton outside Budapest. Heron will race the men’s 5k, while Mann competes in the women’s 25k.

The team will be led by head coach Tyler Fenwick of the University of Tennessee.

2017 World University Games Open Water Roster                                   
Becca Mann (Homer Glenn, Ill./Trojan Swim Club)
Katy Campbell (Federal Way, Wash./Team Santa Monica)
David Heron (Mission Viejo, Calif./University of Tennessee)
Taylor Abbott (Cedar Park, Texas/University of Tennessee)

Head Coach: Tyler Fenwick
ATC: Ashley Marshall
Team Manager: Laurel Liberty

USA Swimming

Jun 23 17

Synchro America Open Day 1: USA leads team tech, Carbonell & Ramirez lead duet tech

by ZwemZa

The evening session on Day 1 of the FINA Synchro World Series America Open began with three young squads vying for position in the team technical competition at the Nassau County Aquatic Center, less than an hour east of New York City.

The U.S. placed first with a spirited Broadway routine that featured fast legwork in the final seconds – which it will perform again at the World Championships in Budapest next month. Canada’s NextGen team (who is here to gain international experience) placed second by showcasing its speed and clean lines in a military number. Argentina energized the crowd with a rock-and-roll theme for third.

In the technical duet event, Spain’s Ona Carbonell and Paula Ramirez predictably took first place with 85.5493 points for their water-themed program. But Carbonell was unimpressed.

“It’s not really good because we had some mistakes with synchronization,” said the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in duet. “We can do better, of course.”

Ona Carbonell & Paula Ramirez 1st place in Duet Tech

Canada, however, provided the story of the night as Jacqueline Simoneau, 20, and Claudia Holzner, 23, placed second despite only learning one week ago that that they were officially a duet.

“I think this is almost unheard of in the world of synchronized swimming,” said Simoneau, a 2016 Olympian. “We’ve had maybe four practices with this routine. Considering all the circumstances, I think we did amazing. Our elements, I think, are very strong so it was a great match.”

“It’s insane,” Holzner said after posting 85.9011 on the scoreboard. “It blows my mind. I’m extremely happy with the way we swam. It felt amazing so there’s nowhere to go but up.”

In third, was Anita Alvarez and 16-year-old Victoria Woroniecki of the U.S. with 82.6878.

New duet Jacqueline Simoneau (R) and Claudia Holzner (L)

Team quotes:

USA Team coach Jenny Ekhilevsky (1st place, team technical)
“I don’t think we’ve arrived yet, but it’s certainly a work in progress.  I think they did a great job with where we are today. We started training in mid-April.”

CAN Team coach, Kasia Kulesza (2nd place, team technical)
“I was very pleased with the outcome. I have a very young, talented group, and we’ve only been together for the last four weeks. For some of these kids, it’s their first experience on the senior level, and we still have juniors in the team. Overall, speed of movement was really good. [The best move] was our thrust in the middle of the routine. It was really high and well executed. We call it a Banquine; it’s a gymnastics term.”

ARG Team coach, Monica Lopez  (3rd place, team technical)
“These girls are so young – we have five junior girls in the senior team. They are strong and they need to grow but I think this is the better team [than the last senior team]. We train in the second city of Argentina, Rosario. It’s the same city of Lionel Messi. The team started working together last year. I think that they have power inside their souls and they all hunger for one goal. They want to qualify to the next Pan Am Games, in 2019. And I think that we can catch this goal because they will do anything we say to go there.”

Aimee Berg, FINA Press Correspondent


Jun 23 17

Favorites show supremacy at the Super Final-2017

by ZwemZa

water-polo 7

Serbia and Croatia finished atop after Preliminary play of the FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final to choose easy opponents for them in the cross-over match-ups.

2017 FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final is in full wings at the Aquatic Palace of Ruza, Russian Federation. The Preliminary play is now over, as Competition Day 3 completed the charts in the groups and completed the quarter-final schedule.

Favorites predictably celebrated their third straight wins and got safely atop with 9 out of 9 points.

Leader of the Group A, Olympic champions and last year’s World League winners Serbia, gave a lesson to the USA, 15-8, and forced them land on third at 4 points, and have their next game against Russia. The hosts on their part came up second in the Group B, collecting their next 3 points and second win in Ruza. To close the group play, Sergey Evstigneev coached side beat Japanese, 12-5 as the Asian power turned out to become the only squad in the pool left scoreless. They closed the ranking, and are to expect a hard test tomorrow in the face of Serbia.

Group B’s reigning power Croatia, with four 2012 Olympic champions and nine silver holders of the Rio-2016 edition, confirmed their strong shape against Australia, 8-3, which went down as low as third with 3 points, and will see in the quarterfinals Group A’s number two Italy. Alessandro Campagna and C routed Kazakhstan by 14-6 and finish with 5 points to book Croats as their next rival.

FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final 2017
Competition results / Day 3 / 22 June, 2017

Game 9. CRO [CROA] – AUS Australia 8-3 (3-0, 0-1, 3-0, 2-2)

Game 10. SRB Serbia – USA United States of America 15-8 (4-3, 6-1, 2-1, 3-3)

Game 12. KAZ Kazakhstan – ITA Italy 6-14 (0-3, 1-3, 2-5, 3-3)

Game 11. JPN Japan – RUS Russian Federation 5-12 (2-3, 2-3, 0-2, 1-4)

Final ranking of the Preliminary play:

Group A: Croatia 9, Russia 6, Australia 3, Japan 0.

Group B: Serbia 9, Italy 5, USA 4, Kazakhstan 0.

Competition schedule

Competition Day 4 / Quarter-finals

Game 13. 16:00 2A – 3B  ITA Italy – AUS Australia

Game 14. 17:20 1A – 4B  SRB Serbia – JPN Japan

Game 15. 18:40 4A – 1B  KAZ Kazakhstan – CRO Croatia

Game 16. 20:00 3A – 2B  USA United States of America – RUS Russian Federation

Olga Kamardina, FINA Correspondent


Jun 23 17

Tough races ecpected at the third Marathon Swimming World Cup stop

by ZwemZa
Ferry Weertman

Ferry Weertman

After the opening in Viedma in Argentina and Abu Dhabi earlier this year, the third stop of the 2017 FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup will be Setubal on Saturday 24 June. The city just a 45-minute drive south of the capital Lisbon is a wellknown venue in the calendar of the open water family.

“I expect a tough race”, the Olympic champion Ferry Weertman from the Netherlands said.

“The conditions will not be easy”, he added.

“But that it is, what I like. I like tough races”, Ferry Weertman said. After his first participation in 2012 he returns now for a second time to the event. “For me it is also a last test for the upcoming World championships next months in the Lake Balaton in Hungary”, said the 24-year-old the runner-up of the previous championships two years ago in Kazan in Russia.

The Marathon Swimming World Cup in Setubal is quite different to the other venues”, Andrea Prayer, Honorary Secretary of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee remarked.

“There can be a lot of changes during the race, like currents, waves and also the weather”, he added. “And it could be possible for the first time in an FINA open water swimming event, that we will use wet suits”, the Italian remembered to a ruke change. When the water temperature will be below 18 degree Celsius, wet suits will be used.

“The race will be very hard”, expects Ana Marcela Cunha as she returns to the venue, where she won for the first time a Marathon Swimming World Cup: in 2008.

Meanwhile she collected altogether 16 victories in the serie and is leading the all-time-winner list together with her countrymate Poliana Okimoto with the same number of first places. “So I have good memories of Setubal”, 25-year-old Cunha said.

47 men and 34 women from 24 federations have entered for the event, including the overall winner from last year, Simone Ruffini and Rachele Bruni, both from Italy. Arianna Bridi from Italy as the leading competitor in the overall ranking of this year has also entered. The start of the men’s race is expected at 3pm, the women’s race will start 10 minutes later on the 2km course in front of the Parque Urbano de Albarquel.

Hans-Peter Sick, FINA Media Committee

Jun 23 17

Gear down for icy swim classic

by ZwemZa
Brenton Williams

Brenton Williams

Don your winter woollies this July and join top South African and local open water swimmers for the fifth Cold Water Swim Classic at Marina Martinique in Jeffreys Bay on July 16 at 09:30.

Presented by Nicholas Melck, the icy event has become one of the core events on the JBay Winerfest calendar. With water temperatures ranging from 11 degrees Celsius to a warm 14 degrees Celsius, this extreme event is the only re-cognised cold water swim in the Eastern Cape.

Swimmers competing in the Mile or Double Mile event, can either wear a wetsuit or compete in accordance with channel rules and wear only a speedo type costume, goggles and a swim cap.

Those competing in the Triple Mile event, which is an official qualifying swim for the notorious Robben Island Crossing, are only allowed to wear a speedo.

This year all eyes will be on two young swimmers, who will test their cold water swimming skills.

Abriella Bredall (10) will compete in the Triple Mile event as part of her journey to become the youngest swimmer to swim from Robben Island to Blouberg. Her sister Issataya (8) has her eyes set on becoming the youngest swimmer to complete the Mile event at the Cold Water Swim Classic.

The final training for the Cold Water Swim Classic will be held at Marina Martinique at July 9. All swimmers are welcome to join.

Enter at

Jun 23 17

Water safety must be placed on African development agenda

by ZwemZa

Water – it’s everywhere, and in just about everything and everyone on this wonderful planet of ours. 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, and glaciers. Water’s in the air we breathe, the ground we walk on, and we humans are pretty much made up of water too. Water, in short, is life. And for a long time, water was my life.

Discovering the joy of swimming inspired me to dedicate 20 years of my life to training and realising my dream to become an Olympic swimmer. Training and competing in the water taught me the importance of discipline, respect for oneself and others, team spirit and dedication. Most significantly, I saw how learning to swim could not only change lives, as it did mine, but also save lives.

My love affair with the water took me to sporting heights and it remains a huge part of my life whether surfing or paddleboarding, racing on a water bike for charity, crawling lengths in the pool or splashing around with my children. Despite that, I’m also all too aware of the risks associated with water. Learning to respect the water, and learning how to swim and stay safe in it can reduce these risks and give us great confidence and freedom.

During my competitive swimming career, it was important to me to share my passion and knowledge of the water with children, and teach them how to be safe in the water. Now I have my own children, one of my top priorities has been to teach them to swim.

Princess Charlene of Monaco teaching South African children to swim as part of the South Africa-Monaco Rugby Exchange. Picture: Gaetan Luci/Palais Princier.

Princess Charlene of Monaco teaching South African children to swim as part of the South Africa-Monaco Rugby Exchange. Picture: Gaetan Luci/Palais Princier.

It is an essential life skill, like learning to safely cross a road. Far too many people, often children, drown because they can’t swim. In South Africa, where I grew up, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death after road accidents. It’s not much talked about. You could say it’s a hidden epidemic in a supposedly dry continent. In fact, Africa has vast swathes of seas, lakes and rivers. In coastal cities like Dakar, Durban, Dar Es Salaam and Freetown, you often find the shoreline crowded with people but as most of them can’t swim, they simply dip their toes at the water’s edge. The trouble is that it doesn’t take much for a child, or an adult, to slip and drown in a few centimetres of water or be swept out by a rogue wave or current.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that drowning claims the lives of more than 60,000 children under the age of five and more than 360,000 people globally each year. It claims a similar number of lives today as diseases such as diarrhoea and measles did in the 1970s and 1980s. As with those then leading killers, there must be a concerted and coordinated effort to prevent deaths by drowning. Africa’s drowning death statistics are sadly the highest in the world but they are such an everyday occurrence that they barely get a mention in local media.

As Patron of the South African Red Cross Society, I am promoting water safety and learning to swim, as well as first aid and CPR training – for children and by children. Education like this is crucial to saving lives and stopping the needless grief that afflicts the families of those who drown.

Princess Charlene of Monaco teaching children first aid and CPR in Daveyton, Johannesburg. Picture: Eric Mathon/Palais Princier.

Princess Charlene of Monaco teaching children first aid and CPR in Daveyton, Johannesburg. Picture: Eric Mathon/Palais Princier.

In 2012, I set up my Foundation to teach children essential water safety skills and how to swim and so far we’ve reached over 300,000 people, mainly children, in 30 countries. Equipping young people with essential life skills will not just save lives, it will prepare them for a future in which they can be active and responsible citizens. For as Nelson Mandela reminded us in 1995, “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth, those who care for and protect our people”.

This is why, this year, we organized the Riviera Water Bike Challenge, a 21km ProAm relay race from Nice to Monaco with 10 teams of 5 competitors, an event which saw David Coulthard, Nico Rosberg, Paula Radcliffe, Ryk Neethling and Percy Montgomery among others battle it out along the Cote D’Azur to be crowned champions. The project raised the funds to design and establish the first aquatic rescue centre in Burkina Faso, an ambitious project for my Foundation in partnership with the Red Cross Monaco and the Red Cross Burkina Faso.

As we celebrate the joy, laughter and future of our precious children, after last week’s Day of the African Child, I urge the world’s governments to put water safety and the elimination of drowning on the development agenda. If countries, NGOs, and international bodies join forces, drowning need no longer be a silent killer, whether in Africa or elsewhere. Together we can save lives – one person, one family, one community at a time. Water is precious and so are our children.

Written by HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco in partnership with the RNLI and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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