South African older women splash their way to health in Soweto pool

April 14, 2023 09:05 AM SAST | By Reuters
Image source: Reuters

SOWETO, South Africa (Reuters) - At a public pool in South Africa's township of Soweto, novice swimmers in their golden years take deep breaths as they move forward, encouraging each other as they go.

More than 40 older women, who have never previously had a chance to learn how to swim, go to the pool every week during the summer to face their fear of drowning and improve their health.

Lifeguard-turned-coach Sibu Zabane launched the class in 2021, when COVID-19 was circulating widely in South Africa, in an effort to help vulnerable older members of the community get fitter.

Gabashane Molefe, 66, joined the class last year after retiring.

"It was a challenge! I couldn't float, I couldn't breathe and my knees were sore," said Molefe, who can now swim without flotation aids.

(Reporting by Sisipho Skweyiya and Shaffiek Tassiem; Writing by Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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