Sharing the important message of drowning prevention and helping children be safer in and around water, Jamaican-born five-time Olympian and four-time short-course world champion Alia Atkinson, Jamacia's Zaneta Alvarenga and Pan American Junior Games record-holder Patrick Groters of Aruba held learn to swim courses this past Friday and Saturday in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Having one 50m pool in Jamacia, the residents of Montego Back have become creative in how they teach others to swim. 

PanAm Aquatics President Maureen Croes noted the impressive community turnout that saw children in and around Montego Bay participate in the open water swimming courses.  

Image Source: PanAm Aquatics

“PanAm Aquatics is proud but most of all grateful, to the flexible and expertise of the open water and communications team that we brought to Jamaica who was able to rally the community and put the focus on learning to swim and techniques for open water,” Croes said. “This will transfer to the pool with the assistance of incredible swimming stars from the Caribbean.”

The youth aspiring swimmers expressed their stoke about the learn to swim course. 

"I believe it is important to have more swim clinics in Montego Bay, to get more people out, interested in swimming and continuing if they like it," said 13-year-old Mia White. 

"Some swimmers have hidden talents and some you have to find. Shout out to Doctor's cave for opening their gates for the swim clinic," added 15-year-old Amano Lamey. "Personally, I am excited for the open water event tomorrow."

In addition to the two Caribbean swimming stars, the event featured an open water stroke technique lesson from former open water standouts Rick Walter and Dennis Ryther for the local club swimmers ahead of the open water event. With the nearest training pool over three hours away, the local swim clubs hold training sessions amidst the waves and tourists on the beaches. 

As the learn-to-swim event ended on the northern coast of Jamaica, up-and-coming junior swimmers took part in 1km and 3km open water swimming competitions in Doctor's Cave Beach for the PanAm Open Water swimming series that started earlier in the week in the Cayman Islands. 

"I enjoyed the 3k here in Montego Bay...I usually train on this beach so I am familiar with the course;" said Benjamin Davis, the junior men's 3km winner. "I am happy to come away with the victory." 

Added fellow 15-year-old Leanna Wainwright, who won the junior women's 3km event: "For the open water event it was a very good experience. I would like to thank PanAm Aquatics for bringing it here. It was a pretty challenging course for me but I am happy for the experience and I would do it again." 

Coming up, PanAm Aquatics will host a week-long open water swimming camp for regional athletes that will be followed by the third and final leg of the PanAm Open Water swimming series. 

About PanAm Aquatics: PanAm Aquatics (PAQ) is the governing body for artistic swimming, swimming, diving, high diving, water polo, open water swimming, and Masters in North, Central, South Americas and the Caribbean. For more information visit: