While we at Granadilla Swim are inspired by and celebrate South Africa’s incomparable beach and swimming culture, we also recognise the fact that every year, countless lives are lost in this country due to children and adults not having been afforded the opportunity to receive adequate swimming training. For those who have enjoyed the privilege of swimming lessons, it’s easy to overlook just how dangerous the water can be. For this reason, coupled with our strong desire to give back to our community, we are happy to announce the creation of the Granadilla Swimming Academy. The Granadilla Swimming Academy will look to expand on existing relationships with several homesteads and orphanages in Cape Town, to offer a comprehensive program that will help children get off the streets to play in a structured, safe environment, to socialise with friends, to gain mentors, and to find a hobby they’ll love for life.
The Academy’s Goals
Learn swimming: Firstly, that everyone who takes part in the Granadilla Swimming Academy learns water safety fundamentals, so that at the very least, each individual has been equipped with the tools to survive in deep water.
Enjoy swimming: Secondly, whether for leisure or exercise, the academy will accommodate all kids who wish to participate in swimming activities. While initially this will take place in the pool learning basic strokes, the plan will be to introduce participants to other water sports, from water polo to diving, rowing and surfing.
Excel in swimming: Finally, we wish to open doors for any of our swimmers to participate in competitions, long-distance races, and perhaps even enjoy a career in swimming, whether that means finding themselves on the podium, or returning to the program as teachers, assisting in the development and mentorship of future participants.
Granadilla Swim and Arafat Gatabazi
Currently in its infancy, the Granadilla Swimming Academy is partnering with a swimming teacher, Arafat Gatabazi, to get accreditation for the weekly swimming lessons that he runs for his homestead. Arafat’s story is an inspiring one, although sadly, one which is not entirely uncommon. Having arrived in Cape Town several years ago as a young refugee, he found himself in the care of one of the local homes. Despite all of the personal traumas he had experienced, and the difficulty of existing in a new environment confronted daily with destructive influences, he turned his life around by focusing on swimming. He started swimming with a group at The Homestead, a registered non-profit organisation that helps street children reconstruct their lives, and with the help of the trainers, developed his skills, eventually completing the swim from Robben Island to Cape Town without a wetsuit (becoming the first black man to do so). Arafat intends to inspire those kids who find themselves in the same position he once was. Our intention with the Academy is to create a program that gives the likes of Arafat a platform to maximise their influence, by contributing financially to transport, facility use, and swimming equipment, and to help create a system that relieves some of the organisational burden, allowing for time to focus on studies and work.
So what now?
The creation and development of the Granadilla Swimming Academy is something that we are extremely excited about. We believe that swimming is a basic life skill that should be taught to every child, and as far as we’re concerned, there can be no celebration of swimming culture without the removal of barriers that prevent individuals from enjoying it. As such, the Academy forms a fundamental pillar of Granadilla Swim, growing along with the company, and pushing us to dream bigger. We’re so proud to kick-start this initiative with Arafat, and look forward to growing Granadilla’s role in the community. Recently we have been given the opportunity to fast-track the development of the program, having been listed on Superbalist.com’s list of 100 South African entrepreneurs and change-makers. If we receive the most votes by the end of October we will receive R100 000 that we plan on committing entirely to the development of our Academy. We urge you to vote for us and assist us in making this program a reality:
Words by Max Dyl Lazarus. Photos by Isabel Pinto.