Tragedy at the Aquatic Centre; Orphan Drowns Amidst Allegations of Negligence and Cover-Up

Georgetown, Guyana – Tragedy struck at the Aquatic Centre yesterday when Joel Adams, a 14-year-old orphan, drowned during a holiday swim session organized by the Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports. This heartbreaking incident has exposed severe deficiencies in the Ministry’s learn-to-swim programme, at a facility which had been plagued with problems for years.

The Aquatic Centre is widely acknowledged as unsuitable for beginner swimmers. Unlike the Colgrain Pool, which is designed for learn-to-swim programmes, the 25m pool at the Aquatic Centre quickly transitions from 5 feet to 8 feet deep, while the 50m pool maintains a daunting 8-foot depth throughout. Despite this, the Ministry insists on conducting its programme at this venue, unlike other clubs that sensibly opt for Colgrain.

One of the most alarming issues is the lack of qualified instructors. Instead of employing certified swim instructors, the Ministry uses swimmers who lack proper teaching credentials. An anonymous source stated, “Swimmers aren’t instructors. They don’t have the training to handle beginners, especially in a facility like the Aquatic Centre.”

The programme is also dangerously overcrowded. There are too many children per instructor, a situation exacerbated by the Minister’s misguided desire to see the pool heavily used. “It’s just stupid,” said another source. “The pool should be used by people who at least know the basics. There are too many kids who don’t know how to swim.”

Even more concerning is the absence of lifeguards and supervising adults. During the incident, there was no one properly monitoring the hundreds of children until they left the facility. “There should be lifeguards on duty, especially when you have so many inexperienced swimmers,” an eyewitness lamented. “But there were none.”

The condition of the pool itself is a testament to the negligence. The water was described as dirty, green, and opaque. “In every pool I’ve seen, you can see the bottom. Not at the Aquatic Centre. It’s so filthy that nobody knew Joel had drowned until a swimmer brushed against his body.”

Joel’s tragic end came after he ran back to the pool and backflipped into the water while his peers were exiting. When he didn’t resurface, his friends alerted the adults, only to be dismissed and sent back to the bus. It was a swimmer who eventually found Joel’s lifeless body, hidden beneath the murky waters.

An orphan with no family to advocate for him, Joel’s death has left the children at the orphanage traumatized. “They raised the alarm, but were shooed away,” said an anonymous source. “When he was finally pulled out, it was too late.”

Adding to the tragedy, none of the coaches present knew how to perform CPR. It was a physiotherapist from the upstairs of the building who attempted resuscitation, but Joel was already gone. “First Aid and CPR are prerequisites for becoming a swim instructor or coach,” noted a concerned parent. “The fact that none of them could perform CPR is unacceptable.”

The Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports has remained silent on this tragedy. This lack of communication and accountability is appalling. Joel Adams’ life was cut short due to gross negligence and systemic failures. The Ministry must be held accountable, and immediate changes should be implemented to prevent another tragedy.

One swimming professional who commented on condition of anonymity stated that, the drowning of Joel Adams is a persistent reminder of the importance of proper training, supervision, and facilities in swim programmes. It is also a reminder of the importance of having Ministry professional who are properly qualified, to be put in positions that affect the lives of children. The ministry is clearly negligent.”

As the community mourns the loss of this young life, there must be a collective call for justice and ıslahat. Joel deserved better, and it is our responsibility to ensure that no other child suffers the same fate.