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Soldier vows not to give up in fight against SANDF’s 25m swim requirement

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A soldier, who has been fighting the SANDF for more than a decade to scrap the requirement that a member completes a 25m freestyle swim before enrolling in its Physical Training Instructor’s course, has vowed not to give up his fight.

Picture: Supplied

PRETORIA – A soldier, who has been fighting the SANDF for more than a decade to scrap the requirement that a member completes a 25m freestyle swim before enrolling in its Physical Training Instructor’s course, has vowed not to give up his fight.

Strike Dzumba earlier turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to have this swimming component of the course overturned, as he felt that it unfairly discriminated against participants who were able to master all the components, except this requirement.

He approached the SA Military Ombud to have the requirement omitted. However, he lost his case before the ombud and subsequently went to court.

To qualify for the course, a member is required to undergo a one-week pre-selection course.

To complete this course, all attendees must be able to complete a 25m freestyle swim.

Those members who are successful in the one-week pre-selection course qualify for the nine-week course.

The SANDF also offers what is known as the Basic Water Orientation programme, specifically aimed at assisting members with no previous swimming experience who wish to qualify for the course.

Dzumba asked that the requirements for the course be reconsidered, as he deemed the 25m freestyle swim prerequisite to be unfair and an invalid practice, as not everyone was able to master it.

He also asked that the freestyle swim entry requirement as well as the lifeguard qualification be removed.

In turning down the application Judge J Cochrane said that while the assessment criteria did differentiate between those soldiers who could swim and those who could not, it could not be said that it was unfair and irrational.

Following the judgment, Dzumba said he would continue in his quest to have the freestyle swim requirement removed.

Dzumba said some of his reasons for challenging the 25m freestyle swim criteria for the physical training instructor course, the instructor course and the lifeguard course was that this criteria was “not an intrinsic part or component of the physical training standard in the SANDF”.

“Some of the units don’t have access to swimming facilities and the capacity to conduct swim training to accommodate members from different backgrounds.

“There is a separate course for swimming instructors in the SANDF where the practical swimming entry test is at a similar level to Swim SA and the South African Qualifications Authority,” Dzumba said.

He added that some of the swimming instructors were in any event not qualified physical training instructors, nor were they compelled to be.

According to Dzumba, the 25m freestyle swim’s mandatory existence in the entry requirements, among others, negatively affected class numbers.

He also said that the requirement that members must first be open-water lifeguard qualified to gain access to the swim instructors course contravened the objectives of the National Qualification Framework Act.

“A practical entry swimming test similar to Swim SA and SA Qualifications Authority standard can be applied which requires members to swim 25m using any of the International Swimming Federation’s recognised strokes,” he said.

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