Rochester student James Bolitho recently returned from India, spending time with students teaching swimming.GRAHAM WILLIS July 31, 2014 3:58am
Rochester Secondary College year 9 student James Bolitho recently travelled to Palikoodam in the south west of India.
Along with Echuca swim coach Russell Parsons and fellow swimmer Jack Steele, Mr Bolitho spent his school holidays teaching Indian children how to swim.
The trio spent two weeks in India, teaching 14 swimming sessions each day, starting classes at 6am and finishing the last class after 4pm.
Students from grade 3 to year 12 were taught various strokes and techniques, ranging in size from 12 to 20 students.
Mr Bolitho, 15, said the senior students were the least capable, many not knowing the basics, such as how to tread water.
He frequently had to pull students, including ones bigger than him, to the surface.
Kicking races and games, held towards the end of the program, were the favourite among the 130 students, but only after they had been put through different drills, water safety and stroke correction and taught lifelong swimming knowledge.
Mr Bolitho said students were polite and appreciative of what they had, even though they did not have much.
Mr Bolitho said it was a life-changing experience and a highlight of his trip was the students and people he met in India.
Away from the pool, he gained an appreciation for the different culture and lifestyle of India.
‘‘It was such an eye-opener,’’ he said.
‘‘The difference between how we live and they live is stunning.
‘‘Everything and everyone is so crammed in.
‘‘I have never enjoyed something so much.
‘‘To experience the culture and lifestyle of India was fascinating.
‘‘It has opened my eyes and made me so grateful and appreciative for the things I have and the chances I get.’’
The swim teachers would like to return, but said it would likely be as tourists rather than teachers.
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