‘African mermaid’ says more black children must learn to swim

todayMarch 20, 2024 34

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Aquatic performer, Gabriela-Green Thompson, says her near-drowning experience has encouraged her to become an advocate for safe swimming practices.

The 29-year-old mermaid performer went viral in December following her near drowning experience in a four-metre water tank during one of her performances.

With more than 34 million views on Instagram – Thompson’s near-brush with death has sparked a larger conversation around water safety.

She believes that greater representation in the sport could help solve the alarming rate at which black children continue to drown in the country.

According to research, around 500 children under the age of 14 die due to drownings in South Africa each year. At the same time, black children are five times more likely to drown in swimming pools, than their white peers.

Researchers say the disparity is a result of many young black and brown children not being taught basic swimming skills.

However, the colourful swim instructor wants to break the mould.

She believes that showcasing her talents is a way of encouraging more children to take up swimming.

Despite her brush with death, the ‘mermaid’ says she’s gone back to the water and is ready to swim another day. Written by Naomi Kobbie


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Written by: Lindiwe Mabena

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