by Peter Marshall

This past weekend we pulled together our largest class of I AM WATER Coaches and almost all are from the Khayelitsha and Mitchell's Plain communities. Members of The Strandfontein Lifesaving Club and Monwabisi Lifesaving Club both joined to fill our training this passed weekend. These ocean lifeguards work on the beaches in Mitchell's Plain and Khayelitsha and are a perfect fit for I AM WATER's work with schools from these same communities- not to mention the fact that they are already highly skilled ocean people with a heart for giving back. Between these two groups of ocean lifesavers our 2018 I AM WATER Coaches Class is now familiar with I AM WATER's workshop and ready to host the more than 120 days of workshops coming from September through April.

We enjoyed a great weekend where I AM WATER Instructors and qualified marine scientists taught our new class of coaches about the marine ecosystem and all the creatures under the waves. We spent time both in the kelp forest freediving and wading through the intertidal zone exploring alien looking animals creeping around. We found a spiny haired chiton the size of the end of your index finger that had puffs of prickly hairs clustered on its armored back. Almost no one had ever seen one (including me) and everyone was fascinated to learn about all the animals they usually simply crunch on their way out to see the waves. Almost all of the coaches shared how they enjoyed learning about all the life they could find in a couple square meters of tidal pools. After we all explored the tidal pools we put on our masks and snorkels to see the underwater worlds that we share with the schools on a workshop. With the sunny skies and great visibility everyone enjoyed swimming out through the kelp and exploring the drop off at the edge of the bay. Even though these lifesavers spend every day on the water, few had ever been freediving, and they loved seeing the ocean from a new angle.The weekend finished with role playing where some of the coaches played the part of curious and enthusiastic kids while the others ran a workshop as coaches. While the exercise helped everyone put into practice the skills we taught them, it also made most of us laugh until our stomachs ached and faces cramped. If nothing else this group of coaches knows how to have a good time, and if I was a Grade 7 student, I would jump at the chance to be around this team of hysterical and energetic I AM WATER Coaches. We can't wait to see them in action come September!

Thank you to our all our friends who helped us pull this together especially Mzi from the Monwabisi Lifesavers and Grant from the Strand Lifesaving Club. Without your help we would never be able to do what we do!