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Alfredo Foundation still reaching out

IMG_6472Offers youth a chance to conquer the waves

Years ago, WEEKender reported on Alfredo Foundation which offers swimming, snorkelling and diving courses free of charge to the young people of the island. After a brief hiatus, they are back in full swing with a current class of several dozen kids and young adults finding confidence in ocean swimming.

The fifth group, which started in April, was a big turnout of approximately 80 students that signed up and participated in the first level course that consisted of three months intensive swim classes. However, many of the students left to further their education abroad, leaving the group with 40 students.

Last weekend, the group set off for its biggest swim so far. Beginning in the Sea Palace area of Great Bay Beach, everyone swam with a safety team in two boats all the way to Pelican Watersports dock in Simpson Bay. The swim began with nerves and enthusiasm and was completed with exhilaration and exhaustion. An amazing 31 swimmers successfully made the distance swim which measured approximately 5.5 kilometres.

Here are some of the group members' written comments offered this week about the accomplishment:

A Royer: "Such a great experience! The swim was nice and the water was great. I started out swimming in the front of the pack; but after about an hour, I was so wrapped up in how beautiful it was that I found myself at the back... I am very grateful that you guys took the time to organize and plan such a challenging, fun, educational and safe excursion."

Sachin Gandotra: "To my surprise, even when I was somewhat older for the group, I was accepted and given a chance. What followed thereafter was epic! Transformation of a non-swimmer to a swimmer; and probably now on the way to a dive course seems phenomenal."

Johan Sabajo: "The long swim was a great experience for me. Although a bit tired, I would like to do it again!"

Dolfie Richardson: "It was a wonderful learning experience. At first, I was nervous about it; but with all the training, preparations and support from my group, I was able to accomplish this goal."

Jatinder Kour: "It was so important for me because it helped to be confident about myself and made me aware that I can do anything if I want... I don't know how to thank you – falling short of words."

The next challenge is to tackle the sport of scuba diving. Alfredo Tapas and his team of PADI dive instructors are meeting with the group to introduce the theory behind the sport as well as the uses of the different items of equipment.

The sessions are held on Sundays at Blue Bubbles by Sea Palace Hotel. For those who would like to contribute to the foundation's efforts, used equipment, use of any kind of boat and other donations or volunteering would be greatly appreciated. Alfredo Foundation can be reached through their facebook page: Alfredo Dive SXM.

 

About Alfredo Foundation

Alfredo Foundation is for recreational swimming and scuba diving purposes. The foundation was founded in 2009 by Mr. Alfredo Tapia and Mrs. Tswana Nunes. Their sole purpose was to provide during the summer time to the youths of Sint Maarten, a six months course which includes, swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving.

Mr. Alfredo Tapia is an ex-navy seal with a license as a PADI Dive Instructor and the owner of a Scuba Dive shop, with many years of experience under his belt. Mrs. Tswana Nunes is a licensed swim instructor and PADI rescue Scuba Diver.

Both founders with a love for the sea and local underwater adventures decided to embark on a journey to start a foundation that provided free courses for Sint Maarten youths between the ages of 15 and 35. The main purpose of the course is to enable everyone with an interest in learning to swim and snorkel an opportunity to eventually make a career with this experience or even to own their own dive shop here on the island after completing all levels of the Scuba Dive courses .

Since its existence, the foundation can boast of teaching four groups over the past five years, with a total of more than 150 students having successfully completed the swimming, snorkelling and PADI Scuba Diving course. The students varied from non-swimmers and intermediate swimmers to better than average swimmers. Some of the students have continued their interest and have even started to work in the local industry as Scuba Dive Instructors, Snorkelling Instructors and Scuba Dive Shop Representatives.

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