Supporting Safety With Swim Cambodia

Speedo support SWIM Cambodia to educate drowning prevention in Cambodia to reduce child drowning rates.

Safety When It Matters (SWIM Cambodia) is a UK charity delivering drowning prevention interventions since 2015 to reduce child drowning and drowning injury in Cambodia. SWIM Cambodia develops partnerships with non-governmental organisations (NGO) to train Cambodian teachers and volunteers to deliver drowning prevention interventions in the classroom, teaching water safety awareness, safe rescue and resuscitation skills.

Over 2000 children (aged 1 to 17) die from drowning each year in Cambodia, which equates to approximately one child every 4 hours.

“No one was there to rescue him and no one was able to perform CPR.”

“We want to make water safe and fun for children living in Cambodia,” declares Conrad Foote, founder trustee at SWIM Cambodia. Foote was working with an NGO in Cambodia when he met a child named Ravi. Two years later, he says, “Ravi was playing in the water with his friends just close to where he lived when he drowned and died. Ravi could not swim, no one [was there] to rescue him and no one was able to perform CPR.”

CPR skills are invaluable when it comes to water safety; in Cambodia, “when a child dies and has stopped breathing, the traditional method is to hold the child upside down and shake the body,” says Foote. “This method is ineffective compared to CPR.”

Furthermore, local communities have expressed a need for safe, shallow swimming areas for children – and SWIM Cambodia has identified a significant lack of safeguards, at least in terms of supervision and patrol.

“We have only heard of two Cambodian lifeguards in the whole of [the country],” says Foote, stating that the team at SWIM Cambodia hopes “to inspire those we teach to become… leaders in Cambodian water safety.”

Speedo have been supporting Swim Cambodia since 2016, but in most recently in 2019 SWIM Cambodia educated 526 children and 264 adult caregivers in water safety awareness, rescue and resuscitation skills, a total of 790 beneficiaries. See infographic below:

Other achievements include:

Partnership Development
SWIM Cambodia activities are achieved through developing new and existing partnerships. Cambodian professionals from iCAN British International School (iCAN) were trained up in 2016/17 to deliver education and from SWIM Cambodia developed a train the trainer team to instruct new teams of educators. Since then SWIM Cambodia have trained two Youth Star volunteer cohorts and in 2019, four teachers at Helpcode to deliver education.

Water Safety Education
SWIM Cambodia have developed a Water Safety manual in partnership with the Aquatic Survival Programme2 for teaching classes of children and adult caregivers. Key water safety messages are depicted through large flash cards, separated into three themes; 1. Spot the dangers 2. Keep yourself safe and 3. Keep others safe.

Rescue Skills
Real-life objects, such as rope, sticks, life jackets and water containers are used to demonstrate rescue methods which improve saefty. In the classroom, students are encourage to act out each method of rescue to prevent multiple drownings, which is commonplace in Cambodia.

Resuscitation skills
Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) skills are taught to children and adult caregivers using a RNLI First Aid manual designed for low- and middle-income countries following European Resuscitation Council guidelines for drowning. Traditional methods include hanging the person up by the legs, putting the nonresponsive person over the shoulder and running around in a circle. The majority of people in Cambodia only know these ineffective methods and have often never seen modern/evidenced-based resuscitation methods practiced. Our trainers try to minimise the social barriers to evidence-based resuscitation by encouraging discussion around fears with set questions and prompts. The SWIM Cambodia trainers encourage each class to practice various drowning scenarios

Improving Education
The education has been translated and contextualised for use in Cambodia. This year we worked with a Cambodian illustrator and the trainer team to ensure resources are as effective as possible. New water safety teaching cards and handouts pictured below:

At Speedo, we know that everyone has a basic right to access water – but we want water to be a source of fun and of sport too, as we know it can be. SWIM Cambodia is working to make the water safe and fun for those who live there, by getting behind the same vision and sharing the water safety message with those around you, together we can make the world a safer place.

To find out more about SWIM Cambodia visit:
https://www.safetywhenitmatters.org/