Morteza (left) with his brother Latif (right) at the YMCA-managed Dandenong Oasis.
In February 2016, Morteza Sami jumped in a swimming pool for the very first time. Twelve months later, he is now a state level swimming prodigy.
The Afghan-born 13 year-old is training for up to two hours a day with the Oasis Otters Swimming Club at the YMCA-managed Dandenong Oasis.
A few years ago, the centre established a program in partnership with Life Saving Victoria (LSV) to create pathways for young people from a CALD background to become competent swimmers and be safe around water. Today, Morteza is reaping the benefits.
He progressed swiftly through the program, transitioning to the Oasis Otters Swimming Club within three months. He is continuing to impress his coaches, swimming times beyond his age and experience.
“Morteza is inspiring others in the local community to learn to swim – something that has become a high profile political issue in recent months,” said Trudy Micallef, Dandenong Oasis Centre Manager.
“His progress shows how successful the partnerhsip and programs have become, and they are only growing both in numbers and profile.”
Morteza’s older brother Latif, a lifeguard at Dandenong Oasis, introduced him to YMCA Swimming Lessons funded through YMCA Open Doors when he came to Australia at the start of 2016 and he quickly adapted, showing rare talent.
Latif himself learnt to swim with the YMCA at Casey RACE when he arrived in Australia. Both brothers have shown remarkable courage and commitment, and are now seeing the immense benefits learning to swim can provide.
“We know how important it is for every child to learn to swim and be safer in and around water. This has been identified and we really need to be doing more in this area for newly-arrived residents.”