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First female owned, staffed swim school gets funding boost

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Aderoju Ope-Ajayi (middle) with DSS staff

Nigeria’s first female owned and staffed swimming school, designed to safely train and equip Nigerian women and children in the sport of swimming, has secured funding to build a first of its kind Aquatic Center in Lagos.

This would be used to build the first of its kind aquatic center with a state-of-the-art standard pool, which will be available for swimming programme for adults and children; competitions (local and international); water safety and lifeguard trainings as well as corporate trainings and events.

Headquartered in Lagos, Dolphin Aquatic Center through its subsidiary, Dolphin Swim School, which is Nigeria’s first swim school focused on women and children, was launched by Aderoju Ope-Ajayi to destigmatise the age-old fears and apathy that most Nigerians have towards swimming. She is a Nigerian Aquatic Federation certified and FINA-certified expert as well as a West African University Games swimming gold medalist.

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Since its launch in 2017, over 2500 women and children have been trained on how to swim. In a country not well known for having a thriving recreational or life skills industry, this feat gives credence to the need for further expansion to accommodate more women and children willing to build the necessary life skill of swimming. Currently, the school has three locations in Lagos; Lekki, Victoria Island and Ikeja. The team has also expanded to include a dozen females, certified instructors, and administrators.

Since 2017, the school has won grants from BMCE Bank of Africa and Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), which helped them scale tremendously. They have also won several awards including WIMBIZ Impact Investment Award in 2017, Africa Entrepreneurship Award in 2018, Redrick PR: The People Behind 14 Brands We Love Nigeria Award in 2018. She was also listed as The Guardian 7 Wonder Women Awards–Sports and Leading Ladies Africa’s 100 most inspiring women of 2019.

“DSS has outgrown one woman’s dream to teach as many women as possible and children the art of swimming and is now actively grooming competitive swimmers while imparting water safety knowledge while utilizing the highest safety standards,” Aderoju said.

She also informed that there has been a high rate of drowning amongst women and children because they do not have this life skill, saying she is on a mission to change this.

For Nigeria, a coastal country with so many rivers and water bodies crisscrossing the terrain, very little effort has been put into making maximum effort of the opportunities offered for trained swimmers and other water activities. Hence, Aderoju’s achievement shows the need for further investments in the industry, to accommodate the growing number of Nigerians taking swimming seriously and with this, hoping to see more women and children in both competitive and recreational swimming pursuits.

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