Today, it is seven years since the very first Nile Swimmers training camp ended. As this fact struck me when I woke up this morning, I lay and thought about how far we had come since then, and how far we plan to go.
Firstly, we want to thank you for the part that you have played in advising, supporting, and encouraging us. We wouldn’t be where we are today, without you.
In 2007, we had no idea what we were going to be able to achieve; and we certainly didn’t expect the range of abilities that turned up.
We trained 18 people… some of them were trained in water safety and rescue, and some of them were simply taught how to swim!
In 2008, we trained another 20 Nile Swimmers – with two from 2007 returning to help us. Now we had an idea what to expect, this group were a lot higher in ability than in 2007. As a team, we were more focussed and had a clearer objective for the programme.
We have no record of how many lives were saved by Nile Swimmers rescues, or how much safety advice was given. We do know, that one individual seized the opportunity and taught every single child is his village to swim. When he had finished in his village, he asked permission to teach all the children in the next village; and so on. In the course of less than year, one unpaid volunteer had taught hundreds of children to swim in his spare time.
In 2008, we graduated from University.
In 2010, Tom was elected as chair of the RLSS Commonwealth Development Committee
In 2011, we presented a paper at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Vietnam. There, built lots of connections with groups and individuals that are still strong and fruitful today.
In 2011, we ran another training programme, 12 participants – a clearer, more refined set of objectives… and for the first time, a plan for monitoring and following-up on progress.
These 12 participants have taught over 600 children to swim; they have given out thousands of pieces of safety information to people; and indirectly impacted over 12,000 people. They achieved this with no additional funding.
In 2012, we were contributing authors to three chapters of the forthcoming edition of the Handbook on Drowning.
In 2012, Dan was elected to sit on the ILSF Rescue Commission.
In 2013, we officially registered as a UK based charity, and appointed Dominic Roberton as our third trustee.
In 2013, we presented (and co-presented with Lifeguards Without Borders) ten papers in three days at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Potsdam, Germany.
In 2013, Dan took over from Tom as chair of the RLSS Commonwealth Development Committee.
We estimate in that seven years, that our unpaid part-time Nile Swimmers in Sudan, have indirectly impacted over 20,000 people. Our next challenge – is to scale that up!