Palau Making a Difference in Elementary Schools

Palau Making a Difference in Elementary Schools

By Billy Brown

Palau Swimming Association put together the first ever, “All Elementary Schools” Swimming Championships on March 31 with half of Palau’s schools participating.  Up to this point, the biggest meet we have hosted is fifty swimmers, which shows how excited we were when this meet topped at just over a hundred students from areas all around Palau. 

The “All Elementary Schools” Swimming Championships included several different races to cater to all levels of swimming.  To encourage the beginners, we moved the lane lines perpendicular to our normal way to create 15m and 30m races.  We had all four strokes offered, including a special kick event, with the rules being that you had to keep two hands on the kickboard.  We also had four different kinds of relays, including a Medley Relay that including a “kick” leg in lieu of Butterfly. 

With the meet being scored, the meet picked up steam as each event was swum.  In the end, the eighteen-event swim meet came down the last race.  With the top three schools, just a few points apart, Ngarchelong showed their experience winning the first ever “All Elementary Schools” Swimming Championship.  Just 34 points behind was the school next to the pool, Meyuns Elementary School, followed by a mere 14 points behind was the biggest school in Palau, Koror Elementary School.

The meet was a complete success, and we could not have been happier seeing all of the kids getting ribbons, team trophies, and a new-found confidence in themselves.  Although this meet was a great day for all of us, it was a true reflection of how hard we have worked over the past four years to get to this point.

Over the past four years, we have done several swim clinics up in Ngarchelong (over an hour drive up to the Northern tip of Babeldaub, the biggest, yet very rural island in Palau).  It is the only other pool in Palau besides the National Swimming Pool in Koror.  The pool itself is a normal pool built into a dock, with the side 25m wall missing, which makes it a true ocean water pool.  Since we are at the mercy of the tides, we have to time our classes just right so we have a “full tank”.  Up to this year, our clinics were only serving one or two local schools, with several of the National Team swimmers helping out, our clinics were averaging ten to fifteen students.  But after a few years, other schools caught wind of the fun and signed up for this year’s clinics.

This year, we had the two biggest clinics we have ever done.  Both clinics had around eighty students from all six schools around Babeldaub.  With a beginner group swimming around the entry steps, and two advanced groups splitting the pool into two classes, it was rewarding to see so many students learning how to swim.  We have had several principals, parents, High Chiefs, and even a couple local Governors, come out and cheer on the kids as they swam with confidence across the pool with our National Team.

Down in our main state, Koror, our lead up to this meet included all three schools having a dedicated academic quarter to swimming in their Physical Education curriculum.  The classes would come to the National Swimming pool and have an hour class with our swim coaches one or twice a week.  The kids come down and have a lot of fun working on all four strokes, and different water safety strategies and techniques.  Our goal is to have all the schools in Palau get at least five classes each throughout the school year.  With each passing year, the program has grown, and within the past year, the program has over doubled in participation. 

The year has been a big success for both Palau Swimming Association and our Ministry of Education.  With local programs now within our Physical Education Program, and outreach programs that reach to the furthest reaches of Palau, we have now been able to teach well over half of the fourth to eight grade students in Palau.  With this event already slated for next year, this meet is only going to get bigger and better for all of the youth of Palau.


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