CHENNAI: People are often scared and even sceptical of swimming in the sea, because of the tides, currents and waves. “There have been a lot of drowning incidents in the past in and around Chennai. It is better to create awareness about the ocean, because we are popular for our beaches. That’s when we came up with the idea of conducting a beach safety programme,” says Christan Noel, manager at Bay of Life Foundation.
The Bay of Life Foundation, formed about a year ago, is associated with the parent organisation, Bay of Life Surfing, a school that has been running for the last seven years. The foundation has been conducting separate ocean awareness classes, and this being the third time. “Earlier, this programme was taught as a part of the surfing curriculum at the school, but now we are doing it separately. This is our third such session and I am really looking forward to it, as in the past we have had a good response from people,” Noel adds.
Having been actively involved in surfing and underwater sports, the team members realised the need for education combined with water sports. “We call it ocean literacy — getting people to understand the ocean better because we get into the water without any basic knowledge about the ocean, waves and currents,” explains Noel.
Being fascinated by the ocean himself, Noel has also been teaching surfing in the school and wants more people to let go of their fears and take a dip in the ocean, while exploring every inch of it. The 90-minute session will see Noel and his group of volunteers teach participants the ocean theories and all the nuances about getting into the water. “After the class, I will take them into waist-deep water and teach them further. What they learn in theory, they then experience in water. Then they learn about the current, waves, how to keep themselves safe, etc.” clarifies Noel.
What about the non-swimmers? “Non-swimmers are welcome; they will be taken only till waist deep water.As long as they are really confident to swim out into the open ocean, it is good to be in waist-deep water,” he adds.
Talking about their future plans, Showkath Jamal, founder, Bay of Life Surfing School, says “Reducing bycatch while fishing, treatment of water which is released into the rivers and which eventually joins the ocean, are two among the many things we have in mind.”
The Beach Safety Programme will be conducted on Dec 3 from 8 am onwards at Kovalam. For details, call: 9578212910