Hong Kong-based charity Splash Foundation has launched a free learn-to-swim video series for people who want to acquire the skills but have nowhere to start. With Hong Kong poised for another hot summer, under social distancing rules beaches and pools remain closed until sometime in May, when the second phase of their relaxation is expected . “Producing and sharing these videos brings us a step closer to our mission that everyone can swim and should have the opportunity to learn,” says Splash chief executive officer and co-founder Libby Alexander. The timely seven-episode online educational resource, hosted on YouTube, is intended for absolute beginners and demonstrates the progression of skills required to be an efficient and confident swimmer. The short tutorials include fundamentals of water safety, getting comfortable in the water, floating and gliding, rotating, deep water submersion and stroke technique. “We may not be able to teach everyone ourselves, but we can certainly share this resource with people and with other swimming teachers,” Alexander says. “And we’re happy for everyone to use it just to improve the quality of teaching and give kids and adults more access to swimming.” Why do so many Hongkongers not know how to swim? Splash Foundation is a non-profit group that looks to help under-resourced communities learn to swim. It has taught foreign domestic helpers and children from low-income families and, for the past six years, has worked with more than 155 children with disabilities through its Splash Jockey Club SwimABLE Programme. Splash’s aim is to make more people in Hong Kong comfortable being in the water, since a high proportion of residents do not know how to swim. Hong Kong has hundreds of kilometres of coastline, 44 public swimming pools and hundreds of private pools in schools, recreational clubs and private buildings. However, 43 per cent of city residents do not know how to swim, according to a 2021 Lloyd’s Register Foundation survey. More than half of women and half of those in lower-income brackets cannot swim. “Sadly Hong Kong’s policy of pool and beach closures over the past two years will only drive these figures higher in the future,” Alexander says. Splash developed the idea of producing the video series two years ago, when its volunteer coaches found videos to be helpful in teaching swimming. They also realised there were few high-quality videos available free of charge that show a full “learn to swim” progression and felt there was a gap to plug. 5 of Hong Kong’s best beaches unaffected by government closure The pandemic slowed its efforts to film the series, as swimming pools were regularly closed under restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus. It was only able to release the series this month. So far, the “Learn to Swim Series” has had tens of thousands of views – 40 per cent from Hong Kong, 30 per cent from Indonesia, 16 per cent from the Philippines, and the remainder from 16 different countries. Episode 2, on front floating and gliding, has been viewed more than 5o, 000 times. The series includes the dry-land exercises that swimmers do before they get into the water and can be practised anywhere. Being able to enjoy the water confidently is physically and mentally beneficial, Alexander says. “It’s the only sport that can save your life. It’s the difference between life and death, knowing how to swim,” she says. “It’s also a mental release. It’s a stress reliever. If you’ve ever been in the water before, if you’ve ever been submerged, it’s such a different feeling.” The entire swimming community has had a difficult time during the pandemic, Alexander says, and Splash is striving to help the underprivileged stay mentally positive. Splash had 15 certified coaches for kids’ programmes and more than 100 volunteer coaches from all walks of life for adult programmes. But during the pandemic, many of them have left Hong Kong, some of them for good. “We have quite a small group, so we feel confident that our coaches [will be] back, but just in general, like the bigger swim schools, there are a lot of coaches that have had to change jobs,” Alexander says. “They’re only paid when they’re in the water.” In January, Splash cancelled its in-person classes and started offering dry-land exercises to get people ready to get in the water. It also offered mindfulness classes for domestic helpers who were not allowed to leave their homes. “It’s obviously hard for everyone, but it’s particularly hard for people from under-resourced communities,” Alexander says. Meditation: a Silicon Valley executive’s secret to success After schools closed in February, to inspire children from low-income families living in subdivided flats, Splash invited swimming champions to teach fun classes online, and share their Olympics stories to explain what swimming means to them. “It was really just about staying connected ,” Alexander says of the power of its tightly connected Splash network of “Splashers”. “Swimming is really just the vehicle. We’re connecting with people and so even after the Splash class, what we found is they go on and they do other activities together,” Alexander says, including yoga classes or hiking. Like what you read? Follow SCMP Lifestyle on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram . You can also sign up for our eNewsletter here .