Friday, May 06, 2005
BBC NEWS | South Asia | Tsunami prompts women's swimming lessons:
"'Many more women and children would have been saved if they knew how to swim,' says Girlie Ganage, aged 44, as she practises her breast stroke in a private 12 metre pool.
The school teacher from Mirissa, in the south-west of Sri Lanka, is among 25 women here who have decided that it is time to learn to swim following the horrors of December's Indian Ocean tsunami.
But that involves breaking some unwritten rules.
'Before the tsunami, it would have been unthinkable. Men still don't believe me when I tell them,' Mrs Ganage says.
The culture in Sri Lanka prevents mixed bathing in the few public swimming pools which do exist - most of which are in the capital Colombo - so opportunities for women have been almost non-existent.
'We could never go into the sea in our swimming costumes anyway, we have to go fully clothed, so it's impossible to swim,' explains Pushpa Kodippila, 43, a mother of two."