Vietnamese PE teacher dreams of teaching 1 million kids to swim

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Vietnamese PE teacher dreams of teaching 1 million kids to swim

Assembled swimming pools made by Huynh Duc Linh and his team are available in many provinces and cities in Vietnam. Photo: Tran Mai / Tuoi Tre

Huynh Duc Linh, a Vietnamese physical education teacher, is pursuing his dream of teaching swimming to one million kids in Vietnam, spending the last six years teaching over 10,000 students.

In 2019, Linh was informed of nine students from Nghia Ha Middle School in central Quang Ngai Province dying in a tragic drowning incident.

Since then, Linh and his colleagues have tried to teach swimming skills to children, reaching their target of running courses for over 10,000 kids after six years.

Recently, the government has called for far more actions to prevent drowning, making Linh and his team decide to pursue a bigger dream: teaching up to one million kids to swim.

More than 2,000 under-16-year-old children drown a year in Vietnam, the World Health Organization cited an estimate in 2020.

It’s not a rosy path

Linh is the founder of Sapaga Company in Da Nang, a coastal city in central Vietnam, specializing in building swimming pools.

Since he started the company, he has had no free time. Linh and his team build swimming pools in such central provinces as Binh Dinh and Quang Tri. They even do projects for non-governmental organizations.

“It’s not a rosy path but I still want to continue my business,” Linh said.

The 2019 drowning incident that caused the death of nine students made him and his friends think about building a low-cost swimming pool. Then, an assembled swimming pool was born.

“At that time, we unanimously started up with the idea of a low-cost swimming pool. However, there were inconsistencies between us. We separated after that, but I have kept running the company,” Linh said.

He traveled to locations from north to south to consult those who were interested in low-cost swimming pools and in constructing such pools, but not all were successful.

Linh traveled to Cam Ranh City and Cam Lam District in Khanh Hoa Province three years ago to construct two water parks by himself after he could not convince the locals of assembled swimming pools.

The two water parks, aimed at providing places for local kids to learn to swim, attracted many parents who came to register for swimming courses for their children.

An assembled swimming pool by Huynh Duc Linh (left photo) and Linh and Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, a national-record holding swimmer (right photo).

An assembled swimming pool by Huynh Duc Linh (left photo) and Linh and Nguyen Thi Anh Vien, a national-record holding swimmer (right photo)

When the operation of the two water parks was stable, Linh handed them over to the locals.

“Local people can run it better than me. They are able to operate them in the long term and expand them in the future,” Linh said.

Moreover, he wants to bring more swimming pools to kids in other regions.

More swimming pools, more kids are able to learn swimming

Linh operates three water parks and swimming classes in his hometown, Quang Ngai, and four water parks in Da Nang, neighboring Quang Nam Province, and Hue City — which is the capital of central Thua Thien-Hue Province.

In the past six years, he has helped 10,000 kids learn to swim with these water parks and swimming classes.

This is a motive for him to continue what he is doing.

“I don’t remember how many swimming pools that I have set up, maybe hundreds, and hundreds of thousands of kids learning to swim in these pools,” Linh shared.

Although his company faced difficulties during two years of COVID-19, Linh and his team have gone on with their dream.

So far, they have collaborated with organizations and schools nationwide in constructing swimming pools for kids, such as departments of children’s affairs and schools in Yen Bai, Lao Cai, Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa, Dak Lak, Dong Thap, Soc Trang, to name but a few.

“We now not only set up assembled swimming pools but also build concrete swimming pools and sport complexes,” Linh said.

He often offers low cost services to social foundations and organizations.

He has never refused any projects on swimming pools for kids even if he has to work as a subcontractor.

In the coming time, Linh will go to Quang Tri Province to attend a program to train teachers to prevent drowning hosted by the Ministry of Education and Training. The program will be organized in 17 provinces from Quang Tri to Binh Duong.

He will meet local teachers and give them updated information on the government’s swimming teaching policy.

Linh will then seek locations for building more swimming pools for children, aiming to turn his dream of teaching swimming to one million kids into a reality.

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