Union wants swimming lessons for asylum seekers after Syrian teen drowns

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Dutch swimming union KNZB is calling for obligatory swimming lessons for asylum seekers, following the drowning of a 16-year-old Syrian boy in a swimming pool in Venlo on Monday. The union doesn't necessarily want every asylum seekers to get a swimming diploma, but "every child must get compulsory experience with water and swimming", Alice Schols of the KNZB said to RTL Nieuws.

The boy who drowned yesterday was a refugee from Syria. According to the broadcaster, pool staff warned him to get out of the water several times. He died after being taken out of the water in critical condition.

He isn't the first young refugee to drown in the Netherlands. In June a 13-year-old boy drowned while swimming in the Waal. And two years ago a 9-year-old Syrian girl drowned shortly after a swimming lesson at a pool in Rhenen. 

According to Schols, problems can easily arise because "we as Dutch make it look easy". "Then they think: I can do that", she said to the broadcaster. 

Asylum seeker organization Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland has been working on swim safety for years, Annemiek Bots of the organization said to RTL. Asylum seekers are given information and signs about safe swimming are placed in asylum centers. "But when they leave the asylum center and go to the municipalities, we've lost them", she said. "The municipality is then responsible for integration, and swimming is not included. It is not part of the integration package."