Sports Star of the Year Roland Schoeman has encouraged South Africans to support the "Learn to Swim" programme in order to lessen the number of drowning incidents in the country.
He said this yesterday at the launch of a programme dubbed "every child a swimmer'' at the Senaoane swimming pool in Soweto.
The programme was launched by Swimming South Africa in partnership with Joburg City.
Its objective is to teach water safety.
Similar programmes were launched nationwide yesterday.
Schoeman gave tips to aspirant swimmers. He also talked about the basics of water safety measures and later signed autographs.
The tips include how to swim in pools, rivers, dams, lakes and oceans.
"It is crucial for children to learn to swim at an early age because they are the most victims of drowning," said Schoeman.
"We appeal to parents in Soweto to bring their children in large numbers and support them during the 10-day swimming programmes."
More than 20 children were given practical swimming lessons under the tutelage of the two Swimming South Africa- qualified instructors, Thomas Khumalo and Mafata Modutoane.
Easyln Young, SSA manager, said: "Children deserve the right for protection.
"As a result we took the initiative to teach the children the survival skills in the event of troubles.
"In the same breath the initiative will help to untap raw talent and maybe produce the athletes who will represent the country at the Olympic Games.''
Twelve-year-old Chauke twins Kurhula and Rhulani said they were motivated by Schoeman's advice and hope to use the programme to their advantage.
The programme, that started yesterday, will run until December 15.
Organisers said parents who are interested in learning to swim are also welcome at the clinics.
Gates open from 9.30am until 5pm each day and entry will be free.