On Saturday, approximately 40 children from Mbokona Primary School were among the first to participate in the Triathlon Solomon Islands (Tri SI) Children's Swimming Program.The program, organised by Joseph Nunua, a graduate from the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Oceania Community Coaching Course in Fiji, June 2007, aims to promote swimming and water survival skills to interested school children.
Initially the program will focus on Honiara and surrounding schools in the Kakabona, White River, Tandai, and Boneghi areas. Local high profile triathletes also acted as instructors including Samson Qaqa (another ITU Fiji course graduate), Maxon Ala, Wilfred Bosa, Nathan Thompson, Saniel Sumalefo, Leban Lokata and numerous other Tri SI triathletes.
The program is proudly supported by the Australia High Commission, through an Australian Sports Outreach Program grant. Representatives of the Australia High Commission attended the Saturday morning session, to handover the swimming equipment funded under the SBD$35000 grant which is being used to purchase teaching equipment and support the programs.
The Australian Sports Outreach Program is a program designed to increase community participation in sport and promote healthy lifestyles. "Swimming is an important part of Australian life and Australia is glad for the opportunity to provide assistance to Triathlon Solomon Islands to help to build swimming and water survival skills among children in Solomon Islands."
Joseph, on behalf of Tri SI, expressed appreciation for Australian assistance to encourage youth in sport in the Solomon Islands, as well as the support of Tri SI participating partner, Eyeline Australia, who provided the swimming equipment.
Outgoing Tri SI President Mr. Ross Andrewartha, who was delighted with the response, said the future of triathlon was in "good hands with the efforts of people like Joseph and Samson, who are committed to developing the sport and investing in the young people who willingly attended the session".
The swimming sessions will continue over the next three weeks and other schools are expected to join the program. The 4-week program will culminate in a 'kids aquathon' at Kakabona which forms a part of the Tri SIs' season opening event on Saturday 15 March.
In addition to the swimming program, Tri SI triathletes will be completing introductory first aid courses, run in collaboration with Red Cross Solomon Islands. This program will ensure instructors have basic life-saving and resuscitation skills to teach children to enjoy the water safely and be able to respond to any future emergencies.