Before PhD candidate Habtamu Derseh joined the University’s Water Safety Program, he didn’t know how to swim and would avoid getting into pools and the ocean.
“I really think this program is an exceptional opportunity especially for international students who have not previously had the opportunity to learn to swim due to lack of facilities in their home counties or any other reasons,”
Since then, his water confidence has increased dramatically and he no longer fears swimming, after learning several techniques in the free 10-week program.
“Growing up in Ethiopia, where there are no beaches and very limited pool facilities, I didn’t know how to swim and hence had no confidence around the water. Due to these, I decided to join the Water Safety Program,” he says.
“I developed survival and basic formal swimming stroke knowledge and techniques such as floating, survival backstroke, backstroke, freestyle swimming and treading water.”
Derseh completed a Bachelor’s degree in Ethiopia and a Master’s degree in Belgium before arriving in Melbourne, where his PhD research in the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences involves developing an animal model for a devastating human lung disease.
He says in addition to learning swimming skills in the Water Safety Program, he also made new connections outside his studies.
“It allows you to interact with people and other students in a different environment than classrooms.”
He also encourages current students who lack water confidence to get involved in the program, which consists of one 45-minute lesson a week, including a beach excursion, as well as unlimited pool access.
“I really think this program is an exceptional opportunity especially for international students who have not previously had the opportunity to learn to swim due to lack of facilities in their home counties or any other reasons,” Derseh says.
“I would encourage and recommend anyone to join this program. It is a great opportunity to learn swimming and be confident in the water.
“It is flexible, free, fun and the staff are very helpful.”
This story was originally published in our 2019 Annual Report.