You can see them in the afternoons after class hours, or on Sundays, their shiny lithe and shiny bodies splashing and squirming in Palau waters- enjoying the best times of their childhood. These are kids who feels at home in the water just as if they are on land.
One of the children’s favorite spots is the KB bridge, particularly in Airai side. Under the bridge, the cement platform serve as an ideal jump off point, and the deep water serves perfect diving purposes. They never seem to get enough, diving off and swimming towards the rocky portion of the foot of the bridge, going off again and again, not minding the strong current that may threaten any ordinary swimmer out to the deep.
Meet the children at the T-dock, even when the water is level with the dock and the current so strong, at the Long Island (getting even to the point of pushing the equipment of the road contractors aside so they will have space to dive and swim), old airport in Meyuns, Ngermid dock, and practically in almost all docks in Koror.
Last Sunday gave me a real breather as I stood on a rock under the KB Bridge, camera poised and catching the kids through the lens performing different acrobatic positions- unscripted of course which added color to the experience.
Palauans may take diving and swimming for granted and the “It’s a crime not to be able to swim in Palau” liner seems to be true.
Living in a place surrounded by water gives one no choice, and adopts to swimming as a natural way of life, like breathing.
While parents in other places have to spend time or pay instructors to teach their children to swim, Palauan kids are fortunate because they don’t need either. They just go to the water with friends and learn to swim by themselves.
“When we were very small kids, my father used to throw us to the water, and we either struggle to float and learn to swim, or sink. That’s the most effective method of teaching kids to swim,” Peleliu governor Jackson Ngiraingas said. The training they got was passed on from generation to generation, thus producing a generation who takes swimming as an activity that’s as natural as breathing.