DNOWS Header

Image Map

Monday, March 5, 2018

When Shipwrecks Ultimately Lead To Swimming

Graph courtesy of Atsunori Matsui of Naruto University of Education that shows how the number of drowning deaths is irreversibly correlated to the increasing percentage of schools with swimming pools in Japan.

When a disaster hits a city of a country, sometimes politicians and residents are deeply moved and sufficiently motivated to make fundamental changes or invest money in order to avoid the same disaster in the future.

Two shipwrecks on opposite sides of the world led the United States and Japan to instigate profoundly significant aquatic changes for the benefit of its society.

The fires aboard the General Slocum steamboat in New York Harbor led to the death of an estimated 1,021 of the 1,342 people on board - mostly girls, mothers and grandmothers - who died.

While the outrage was immediate and the bodies of the victims washed up on the shorelines for days, the fact that the commonly-worn heavy clothing and that swimming was not taught during that era complicated a bad situation and made it much worse [see account in the New York Time here].

As a result, politicians and school administrators recognized swimming as more than sport and fun.

Meanwhile, Annette Kellerman [shown on left] had gradually made a name for herself with all kinds of channel and river swims from Australia to Paris, including the first attempt by a woman to swim the English Channel in 1905. Although she failed three times to successfully cross the Channel, she found her way to success in other venues. By 1907, the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer had taken up the cause for teaching girls and women to be taught how to swim. In court in Boston, Kellerman argued her position, “Don’t women have the right to save themselves from drowning when men aren’t around to protect them? Then how can we learn to swim wearing more material than you hang on a clothesline?

Eventually, Kellerman help popularize swimming among her gender that culminated in many learning how to be safe in the water.

Decades later in Japan in 1955, the Shiun-maru ferry sunk after colliding with the Uko-maru ferry in a thick fog. Among the 168 people who died in the waters of the Seto Inland Sea, 100 elementary and junior high school students drowned.

Their deaths ultimately led the Japanese government to start a nationwide program of building pools and teaching swimming in public schools. Because most schools did not have a swimming pool on campus before the 1960s, Japan went on a pool building spree with over 86% of elementary schools, 73% of junior high schools and over 64% of high schools with pools with mandatory swimming instruction in school.

As a result, Japan has very successfully decreased the number of its drowning tragedies with the swimming policy [see graph above].

So while the drowning deaths of young and old were undeniably tragic in New York and Japan, the result of teaching swimming have long resulted in many, many others gaining the knowledge and ability to swim themselves.

Copyright © 2008-2018 by World Open Water Swimming Association

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

WOWSA is celebrating the
1-Year Anniversary of the monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine
by giving you a free copy of the anniversary issue.

Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
File Size: 13MB


Download the file to your computer, and then right-click to extract the magazine which is inside the zip folder. The magazine is in PDF format.

CLICK HERE to download your free copy now.

Open Water Swimming Magazine

Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...

The Other Shore

The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac

An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...

Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:

The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.


Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program