SRINAGAR: Two Physical Education graduates, who observed lack of swimming skills among people in Kashmir during the 2014 floods, have volunteered to impart the life saving skill to enthusiasts.
Riyaz Wani and Abid Bhat arrive at the Nigeen Lake banks, every morning, in summers, to train aspiring swimmers, which include youth as well as elderly people.
The two are also focusing on rescue skills and provide the training free of cost. The equipment is provided by Tourism department, while the duo charge a nominal fee for equipment maintenance.
About 2000 enthusiasts have been trained since 2016 when the duo started the training.
Abid, who has done some water sports courses, told Kashmir Reader that during flood rescue operations in 2014, he saw that the population largely lacked swimming skills.
“I remember instances during flood rescue operations in 2014 foods when young energetic boys could not swim few feet of water to move to safer places or to get food from relief centres. We had to go inside lanes and bylanes to reach out to the people which prevented us from reaching out to maximum. If the population were trained, they could have helped themselves and put to end miseries they suffered,” Abid said.
The duo has done Bachelor in Physical Education, life saving training and some water sports courses. Abid teaches at a private school while Riyaz works in a government department.
“We have trained more than 2000 people, young and old, including nine girls. From this year, we have added rescue skills to the training. We have taught how to tackle swimmers who suffer heart attacks and injuries in the water,” he added.
Ali Muhammad, who is in 50s, joined the camp this year and learned how to swim and rescue someone in water.
“When I joined the camp, I was water phobic. I neither knew how to swim, nor rescue. It took me more than a week to get a hand on rhythm. Today I can go without life saving jacket,” Ali said.
Like the trainer duo, Ali was prompted to join the camp by the memories of 2014 floods.
During floods his house was submerged in water for many days, and had to wait along with his family for rescue.
“When I heard about the camp, I joined immediately. At least I could be of help to myself, if, God forbid, I fall in a flood situation again,” Ali said.
Abid said that before anyone is sent into the water his breathing and heart rate is checked. In water, Abid said, the trainee’s rhythm, leg and arm movement is checked, and then training is imparted.
“We do it out of passion and love for Kashmir. We spend from our pockets. Imparting training makes us content and happy,” he added.
The training, the duo said, has been helpful, as during the recent flood threat in the city when their team stationed themselves at different locations, “more swimmers” were ready this time to help people.
The training starts every year in June and ends in September. This year it is likely to end by late September.