WATCH | IT guy quits job to follow his passion by offering free swimming lessons to underprivileged kids

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  • Trevor Ferrier left his job of 16 years to offer free swimming lessons to underprivileged kids.
  • He said he got "tired" of seeing kids drown and wanted to prevent it from happening, especially as the festive season was approaching.
  • The qualified swimming coach says he feels "blessed" to be able to contribute to young kids' lives by teaching them how to swim.

A Cape Town man has left his job to become a full-time swimming coach and offers free swimming lessons to underprivileged kids as the festive season approaches.

Trevor Ferrier, 47, told News24 he had been a software developer for 16 years when he decided to leave his job as he felt he wasn't adding value to anyone's life.

"I just got tired of sitting in front of my computer with headphones on and developing software for the company every day. I felt like something was missing in my life as I wasn't adding value to people's life. Yes, developing software is great and all, but I think the time came when I needed to find my passion in something else," he said.

He started as a volunteer lifesaver at the age of 12. This led to earning his stripes as a professional lifesaver on the False Bay coast in the Western Cape, where he witnessed many drownings.

Ferrier said he always loved swimming, and one day a friend and his family had come over to their home and had seen his daughter swimming.

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"I was asked if I can teach my friend's daughter to swim, to which I eagerly agreed. I proceeded to get the child into the water. She was a bit hesitant at first, but by the end of the day, she was able to swim across the pool with ease. Everyone was surprised. I think I was even more surprised at what I had just achieved with this young child," said Ferrier.

The swimming coach said while living in Gqeberha he left his job in 2013 and started the process of becoming a qualified swimming coach.

"Whilst still living in Gqeberha, I had qualified as a coach and started giving free lessons to underprivileged kids in the Eersterus area on Fridays. All the kids in the area just started flocking to the pool. It was an overwhelmingly awesome sight," giggled Ferrier.

Swimming lessons are held in this building in Philippi.
The kids enjoying swimming lessons.
The kids practicing what they have been taught by coach Trevor Ferrier.
Kids getting swimming lessons with coach Trevor Ferrier.

Passion for teaching kids to swim

A couple of months into 2017, he realised that teaching kids to swim was his passion, so he packed his bags and moved to Cape Town.

"I started giving free swimming lessons on Fridays at Garden Village, where I'd teach the kids the basics of swimming. Children and even adults in the community all started coming to get free swimming lessons," he added.

According to the swimming coach, when he would arrive at the swimming venue on Fridays, there would be long queues of people waiting for lessons.

Trevor's Swim School (TSS) is offering classes in Pinelands and Philippi and has five coaches teaching the kids.

He added:

I realised that water can be both fun and extremely dangerous. While many children and adults are not able to do the basics in water, I want to provide that for them, especially with the festive season approaching.

Ferrier said it was heartbreaking reading or hearing that someone had drowned. This was what prompted him to continue giving his all during the swimming lessons, he added.

Clients attending the Pinelands swimming lessons, held at a privately owned pool, pay a monthly fee.

"Our Pinelands swimming school is where most of our... clients use the pool regularly, and therefore are charged. The [money] that we generate from our Pinelands clients is how we can still provide the free lessons to kids in Philippi. It has been a blessing," he added.

Ferrier said clients who used the pool daily were charged a flat rate as the maintenance of the pool was quite costly.

"The more clients we get, the more [kids] we can add... to the free lesson sessions – and still maintain the pool. Some of our Philippi kids use the pool daily and are therefore charged a discounted rate because of the areas," he added.

According to Ferrier, many parents can't afford the fees but want their children to attend lessons every day.

One of the kids with their swimming coach.
The kids enjoy a swimming lesson at Trevor's Swim School.
The kids attending Trevor's Swim School love attending lessons.
Swimming coaches Shane Stevens and Trevor Ferrier at the swim school.

'Coach, watch me go'

"We don't turn kids away. Learning to swim is a necessity. Parents will often come to the school and say they are not able to afford the lessons anymore because they lost their job, or whatever reason they may have for not being able to pay anymore, and that's okay. We will still try and accommodate as best we can," he said.

He said before the Covid-19 pandemic, the swimming school was able to accommodate 250 kids at lessons, but the number was dropped to 100 kids due to the pandemic.

"The kids thoroughly enjoy the water. It's been a real joy watching my learners grow in their swimming. I sometimes get emotional thinking that some of them were even too scared to put their toe in the water, but now they are doing laps in the pool shouting, 'Coach, watch me go'," he added.

He said giving back to the community has always been his main priority.

"Swimming is fun, and if I'm able to provide a few basic swimming lessons to these kids, then I will do so. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than knowing I can contribute to someone's growth in life," he said.

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"Over the years, TSS has evolved into a place where young swimmers learn valuable life lessons along with exceptional swimming techniques through one-on-one sessions with passionate swim coaches," he added.

According to him, working with children from disadvantaged areas in Cape Town has opened his eyes to the daunting realities they're faced with.

He added:

I noticed the many dams and still water in areas like Philippi and Heideveld, where many young children are left unattended during the day is quite sad. So, to keep them busy after school, free swimming lessons for a couple of hours should keep them off the streets.

When News24 visited the swimming school on Wednesday morning, it was buzzing with excited kids eagerly awaiting their turn to get into the water for a lesson.

"I feel an overwhelming sense of satisfaction that I'm able to contribute to these kids' lives. And knowing that they can enjoy themselves in water as the festive approaches and not fear the water anymore is wonderful," he added.

According to the City of Cape Town, there were 17 drownings at City beaches and pools over the past year.

"The Department of Recreation and Parks can confirm that none of these drownings were children under the age of 10," said Luthando Tyhalibongo, spokesperson for the City.

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