Swimming as a sport continues to major strides in Samoa.
Not only are its young athletes excelling at international competitions, the sport is opening another pathway for more young people to represent Samoa at international competitions.
Yesterday, the Samoa Observer caught up with Swimming Coach, Rie Marutani, at the pool deck in Tuana’imato.
Marutani is a volunteer from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (J.I.C.A.) who has been here for almost two years.
She has a passion for swimming and dreamed of one day teaching in a developing country.
So when she found out Samoa was looking for a swimming coach, she dove for the opportunity.
Now, she’ coaches the Le Amosa Swimming Club, Samoa Primary and Le Tanifa O le Vai.
Coming from a Japanese perspective, she is amazed at the potential young Samoan athletes have shown in swimming.
“I’m Japanese, so compared to the Japanese, they’re physically so strong,” she said.
“I want them to keep swimming in the higher level but the culture and situation and a lot of things stop them from doing this.
“I found it very hard and difficult to keep them going because they have school, chores and in charge of a lot of things.
“So very few can continue to the high level.”
Yesterday, she was working with a group of students from Le Amosa School, who have integrated swimming in their curriculum.
She is astoundingly proud of the group because a large majority of them didn’t even know how to swim at all.
Now, the entire group can swim from wall to wall using all four strokes. ”“Personally, the whole island should learn how to swim,” she said. “But these kids didn’t know how to swim at all. They started from the bottom and now they can swim. “
Marutani hopes to further develop the sport on the island, but identifies the hurdles the sport faces.
“We need more coaches and school kids. Once the school teachers put swimming in their curriculum, it will be much easier.”