Hong Kong Jockey Club investigates safety concerns in free Learn-to-Swim Programme for primary students

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9th June 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Hong Kong Jockey Club Learn-to-Swim Programme for Primary Students, sponsored by The Charities Trust of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, will begin accepting applications from primary school students born in 2016 and who do not know how to swim, from 8th June to 4th July, 2023. The programme, which is completely free of charge, will run from 1st September, 2023, to 30th April, 2024, and will accommodate 2,100 students.

The programme is aimed at equipping young children with essential swimming skills, with a view to promoting water safety and preventing drowning accidents. The courses will be conducted by qualified instructors, with a student-to-instructor ratio of 6:1. Students will receive 20 one-hour lessons over the eight-month period.

However, concerns have been raised about the safety of the programme after a video surfaced showing a swimming class with what appeared to be an insufficient number of instructors. The footage, filmed at a public pool in Kwun Tong, showed at least 10 students in one lane with only one instructor in the water. Furthermore, the complainant alleged that some classes were conducted during off-duty hours of lifeguards, potentially endangering the safety of the children.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club responded promptly to the concerns, stating that it had contacted the Hong Kong China Swimming Association and launched an investigation into the matter. The Jockey Club emphasised that the safety of the students was of utmost importance and that any violation of the rules would be dealt with seriously. They also announced that they would increase surveillance to ensure that the programme is conducted safely and in compliance with regulations.

The Jockey Club Learn-to-Swim Programme is funded by The Charities Trust of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and is managed by Hong Kong China Swimming Association, which is responsible for arranging and overseeing the swimming classes. According to the Jockey Club, the instructor-to-student ratio is strictly maintained at 1:6 to ensure the safety of the students.

The complainant also alleged that some students in the pool were not part of the Jockey Club programme and were being taught by unaffiliated instructors. This raises concerns that some swimming schools may be exploiting Jockey Club resources for their own profit.

The Jockey Club responded by stating that it is taking the matter seriously and has implemented regular checks to ensure that all participating swimming schools are following the guidelines set out by the programme. The Jockey Club has also established a disciplinary mechanism, promising to investigate any violations of the rules and take appropriate action.