Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

Sav­ing 5 lives at the age of 11: Arham Faiz, Sri Lanka’s youngest lifesaver

- By Muqad­dasa Wahid Sports · Sri Lanka · Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia · Switzerland · Sharjah · United Arab Emirates · Galle · Panadura · Galle Fort · Sri Lanka Navy · Sri Lanka Navy · Balapitiya

Ac­cord­ing to WHO, drown­ing is the third lead­ing cause of un­in­ten­tional in­jury/death glob­ally. The Sri Lanka Drown­ing Report 2020 is­sued in Jan­uary re­veals that in Sri Lanka, an av­er­age of 755 drown­ing re­lated deaths are re­ported an­nu­ally, and that drown­ing is the lead­ing cause of death among chil­dren aged 1- 14. In this back­drop, it would be notable to note that Sri Lanka prob­a­bly has the youngest lifesaver in the world. Arham Faiz, a 11-yearold, is hailed as the youngest lifesaver in Sri Lanka. Faiz has cur­rently saved 5 lives and had also sin­gle hand­edly man­aged to push an aban­doned 200L oil bar­rel from the deep sea to the shore in Mount Lavinia.

Faiz, has been swim­ming un­der the guid­ance of his swim­ming coach, Mr. Chamara Waduge, from the age of 4. He ven­tured into life­sav­ing at the age of 8, un­der the guid­ance of Mr. Sumith Somikelum, his life­sav­ing coach. His father, Mr. A.C.M. Faiz, stated that he trained Faiz to swim in the sea from the age of 6. Con­stantly hear­ing news re­gard­ing drown­ing and drown­ing re­lated deaths made Mr. Faiz want his son to be­come a lifesaver. “As Faiz was a good swim­mer and showed an in­ter­est in swim­ming in the sea, I asked him if he would like to pur­sue life­sav­ing and he agreed,” he said. His coach, Mr. Waduge con­fided that though Faiz was a good swim­mer he would al­ways come last in the swim­ming meets. “De­spite his de­feats, Faiz would par­tic­i­pate in ev­ery swim­ming meet,” Mr. Waduge said and added that once he had scolded Faiz for be­ing mis­chievous and com­ing last at ev­ery swim­ming meet. “I had told him that I would tell his father to pull him out of the club and that I wouldn’t en­ter him in to any­more swim­ming meets. That in­stant, Faiz pleaded with me to let him try one more time and that he would do bet­ter. At that moment, I knew that he was a de­ter­mined child,” he re­called. Notic­ing how Faiz showed no fear while swim­ming in the sea and his pas­sion for div­ing from greater heights, led Mr. Waduge to re­quest Faiz to be a lifesaver at the swim­ming meets. He dis­closed that Faiz was very en­thu­si­as­tic about that. For his sup­port in sav­ing chil­dren from drown­ing in the swim­ming meet, Faiz was awarded the ‘Life Guard and Wa­ter Res­cue’ tro­phy at the CH Academy Swim­ming Meet. He also shared that Faiz had won a bronze medal at the 2018 Desert Cub Swim­ming Meet in Shar­jah, UAE.

Though he was a good swim­mer he would al­ways come last in the swim­ming meets

Faiz was awarded the ‘Life Guard and Wa­ter Res­cue’ tro­phy at the CH Academy Swim­ming Meet

“I can go around 1520ft with­out oxy­gen in the deep sea,”

START­ING THE LIFE SAV­ING JOUR­NEY

Speak­ing to Daily Mir­ror, Faiz re­called that he first met Mr. Somikelum when he was on a fam­ily trip, at Galle Fort. Faiz had swum in the sea with­out fear, which caught the eye of Mr. Somikelum who had ap­proached him and his father ask­ing if he’d like to train as a lifesaver. “In Sri Lanka, around 3 peo­ple drown per day and 1,095 peo­ple drown an­nu­ally. In this back­drop, life­savers are very cru­cial in this coun­try and train­ing them from a young age is ben­e­fi­cial,” he stated. Cur­rently Faiz has com­pleted his fourth exam on life­sav­ing and has to wait un­til he is 18, to be­come a li­censed lifesaver. Faiz had also com­peted in the 2 mile races at Sri Lanka Navy Life­sav­ing School, Balapi­tiya in 2019 and 2020 and was the youngest com­peti­tor in the race. “Though Faiz didn’t win the races, he was able to swim for 2 miles,” stated Mr. Somikelum.

Faiz stated that his love for wa­ter and the sea be­gan at the age of 3, when he used to go with his father to play in the beach. “Since then, I’ve al­ways loved go­ing to the beach and swim­ming in the sea. I can now swim 4-5km into the sea and back,” shared Faiz. He is also able to dive in the sea and spends around two and half hours in the deep sea. “I can go around 15-20ft with­out oxy­gen in the deep sea,” said Faiz re­call­ing an in­ci­dent where he dived to see a sunken ship in Panadura. “Once there was this ob­ject bob­bing up and down in the wa­ter at the Mount Lavinia beach, I then swam to it to dis­cover that it was an oil bar­rel. I man­aged to bring it from the deep sea to the shore,” he stated proudly, while his father said that the Sri Lankan Navy had ap­plauded his hero­ics. He also as­sists the Sri Lankan Navy in their coastal clean-up ef­forts.

In Sri Lanka, around 3 peo­ple drown per day and 1,095 peo­ple drown an­nu­ally. In this back­drop, life­savers are very cru­cial in this coun­try and train­ing them from a young age is ben­e­fi­cial,”

Faiz also di­vulged that he just felt happy when res­cu­ing peo­ple, as he is able to save a life. Af­ter res­cu­ing the per­son, CPR is per­formed on the res­cued per­son on the shore. Though Faiz had com­pleted his CPR train­ing, he is un­able to per­form CPR for adults but is able to do for chil­dren.

Other than life­sav­ing, Faiz is also pas­sion­ate about sea life es­pe­cially re­gard­ing dif­fer­ent species of fish and is highly mo­ti­vated by the work of Asha de Vos. “I love go­ing to the deep sea and look­ing at the sea life, which I of­ten do,” he re­marked.

When asked how he man­ages his train­ing and school­ing, Faiz shared that he would train ev­ery day from 5am-7am un­der the guid­ance of Mr. Waduge and would then leave for school. Dur­ing the week­ends, he does life­sav­ing train­ing un­der the guid­ance of Mr. Somikelum.

A MES­SAGE TO YOUNG LIFE­SAV­ING EN­THU­SI­ASTS

“If you want to be­come a lifesaver, you have to be brave and de­ter­mined,” re­vealed Faiz, while adding that one has to be con­sis­tent in their train­ing and love for the sea. He also reck­oned that one has to be alert, as life­savers are re­quired to be quick and alert.

 ??  ?? Arham Faiz with his father Faiz has cur­rently saved 5 lives
Arham Faiz with his father Faiz has cur­rently saved 5 lives
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