Friday 15 December 2017

Search and Recovery train fearless young swimmers

LIKE FISH: Dublin youngsters having fun at the Grand Canal Dock during the heatwave.
LIKE FISH: Dublin youngsters having fun at the Grand Canal Dock during the heatwave.

NIAMH HORAN

THEY are the inner city youngsters who captured the nation's attention during the heatwave, fearlessly jumping off bridges, buildings and restaurant rooftops into the Liffey waters.

But now the kids have caught the attention of the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit (IUSRU), who were so impressed with their skills that they have begun a workshop to develop their talents in the water.

Divers from the IUSRU have begun training a group of the inner city youngsters in first aid, resuscitation, search and rescue, defibrillator use and even the latest site-scan sonar technology.

"We are actively looking out for volunteers to come on board with the unit, particularly younger people, and we can train them easily," IUSRU spokesman Richard Kaye told the Sunday Independent.

"It is great that they are from Dublin city centre simply because the reaction time would be far quicker and their local knowledge is excellent."

Commenting on the jaw-dropping antics that caught the attention of the public during the recent heatwave, Mr Kay said Ireland could have some future champion athletes in its sights.

"They are absolutely fantastic swimmers, they are very confident in the water – like fish. Our hearts would have been in our mouths watching them sometimes."

But rather than wasting time chasing the youngsters from the water, the team instead saw their potential.

"Kids are kids. They are not going to stop doing something just because someone tells them," Mr Kaye said.

"So we felt rather than trying to prevent it, we might as well put their skills to good use, train them about water safety, help them look out for one another and maybe give them a career path in the long run."

A team of divers brought the group of children from 13 to 18 years of age together at the basin in Dublin's Grand Canal Dock to train them in conjunction with Waterways Ireland.

"We like to try and give a little bit back and we were delighted to come on board to help children out. We feel that if we can bring them on early and develop their interest we could have some really good recruits over the next few years," Mr Kay said.

"It was important too because I don't think the kids were fully aware of the dangers they faced every time they dived into the water. You'd be amazed at what you'd find under the surface – shopping trolleys, steel barriers – and there is a danger that they could get their legs caught in one of these things and not be able to swim to the surface.

"The water is four to five metres deep in places too, but when you are jumping from the heights that they are, they can go pretty far down. They have no fear, which is great, but they also have to know how to take care of themselves and each other.

"We have taught them how to spot if someone is drowning because what happens is that when someone is in trouble- they don't scream, they slip silently underneath the water, so they can really watch out for each other now.

"We were delighted with the results. They took it very seriously and the older kids really took a big interest in it too. It could be the start of something really great for them and for us."

The team, who will be conducting an underwater clean-up in the coming weeks, has asked that anyone looking for more information or who would like to get involved should log onto www.iusru.ie.

Sunday Independent

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