Sink or Swim: Learning the Crawl in the Maldives

Released Spring 2015

Over 350,000 people live 4 feet above sea level in the island republic of Maldives, yet most never learned to swim!

Take a deep dive with filmmaker Jon Bowermaster as he documents a swim camp for 3rd graders and their mothers. Discover the complex and fascinating interplay between people, their culture, and their ocean environment.

For two weeks in May, our One Ocean Media Foundation helped organize, and film, a unique learn-to-swim project on the remote Maldivian island of Eydafushi. With the support of the Slow Life Foundation and the Soneva Fushi Resort, our goal was to get moms and kids more confident in the water, in part as a means to impress upon them the importance of taking better care of the beautiful ocean that surrounds them.

At the end of the two weeks, the forty-eight third-graders and eighteen burka-clad mothers who had come each day for lessons put on masks, fins and snorkels and, for many of them, were for a first time able to see the water world below the surface. Like many corners of Planet Ocean the Maldives suffer from a variety of ills, mostly manmade: Overfishing. Plastic pollution. Rising sea levels due to a warming ocean. And acidification. Teaching these incredible families to swim was hopefully a first step towards encouraging them to be even better guardians.