For the past eight weeks, the residents have been showing off their skills to staff members from intellectually disabled homes throughout Gauteng.

Owner of the swim school, Estelle Barnard, explained Special Olympics South Africa approached Debbie Dolphins and Midrand Swimming Academy to educate staff from intellectually disabled homes on the basics of swimming, in the hope that they would go on to receive further training to teach intellectually disabled people how to swim.

Barnard said most of the staff did not know how to swim themselves. As 38 participants joined the course, Barnard and her daughters Candice Janse van Rensburg and Cindy-Lee Barnard decided to change their lesson plan to teach the staff about swimming from the side of the pool, while the Cluny Farm residents practiced their strokes.

After seven weeks of learning and completing homework assignments, eight of the participants who showed the most commitment were selected to swim in the final session on 17 October.

Janse van Rensburg explained that commitment was needed from both the swim school and those who wanted to learn. “We are here to support all of you one hundred percent, but you need to also be totally committed to want to learn how to swim,” said Janse van Rensburg.

Special Olympics South Africa assistant manager Igna Steyn thanked the swim school for its support. She said, “For those of you who are not returning, do not see this as the end of the road. Still try to take the appropriate courses to learn how to swim and how to teach others. Debbie Dolphins is here for you and they will point you in the right direction.”

Before finishing the lesson on 10 October, Barnard and Janse van Rensburg explained how the participants could receive further training through Swim South Africa.

Maureen van Vuuren of Irene Homes was one of the participants on the course. She found the lessons useful and had already shown some of the residents at Irene the lessons she had learnt.

She said she believed it was important to learn the skills in order to help the intellectually disabled to use the pool to its full potential.


Caregivers from homes for intellectually disabled people spent eight weeks learning about swimming at Debbie Dolphin's Swimming School in Noordwyk.<br /><br />
Estelle Barnard helps Cluny Farm residents, along with the help of Cindy-Lee Barnard at Debbie Dolphin's Swimming School in Noordwyk.<br /><br />
The participants enjoy watching the Cluny Farm residents swim.<br /><br />

Leave a Reply