19 January 2018
Migrant swimming instructors to graduate and become members of West Beach Surf Life Saving Club
Picture: Bianca De Marchi
As published in The Advertiser.
Written by Ben Harvy.

Photo: Iranian migrant and swimming instructor Arash Rezaei teaches Misha, 6, to swim at Immanuel College pool.

A large group of migrant swimming instructors will graduate and become West Beach Surf Life Saving Club members from today, ready to guard the lives of South Australians expected to hit the beaches in search of relief from oven-like temperatures.

Today’s forecast – anticipated to peak at 41C about 3pm – means lifeguards will be on high alert as thousands wade into the ocean at some of Adelaide’s most popular beaches.

The safety of beachgoers – especially migrants unfamiliar with basic water safety – is under the spotlight after four tragic drownings in two years.

But swimming instructor graduates from the On the Same Wave beach safety program hope to prevent that.

Most of the 24 participants – from countries including Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar, China and Vietnam – started their water journey two years ago with no swimming ability.

This week they will all become accredited AustSwim instructors after completing their final course – guiding members of their communities, including students from the Congo, Afghanistan and Russia, in the pool at Immanuel College.

Instructor Arash Rezaei, 21, who captained the Iranian swimming team and came to Australia in 2015, said his goal was to make sure everyone could enjoy the ocean safely.

“I would love to teach everybody how to swim, I don’t want to anyone to drown at the beach,” he said. “Everyone (needs to) learn how to swim, especially refugee people.”

Mr Rezaei said his students were usually scared of the water but after some encouragement grew to love it.

The instructors will steer classes at Glenelg for the Sure Swim School program which begins at the end of the month.

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