Crime affecting aspiring pro-divers

Man diving
Man diving (Photo credit: Brian Matangelo)

Aspiring pro-divers of the Waterfront Swimmers are being hindered by the increased crime in their community of Parade Gardens, also known as Southside. The divers have been unable to train for weeks because of gang violence.

Twenty-year-old university student and member of the Waterfront Swimmers, who wants to remain unnamed, said the crime in the community had made him afraid. “To be honest, the crime in our community has spiked. It has scared most of us. We haven’t dived in the last week”, said the diver. His team dives at the Kingston Waterfront.

The twenty-year-old said that he dives for enjoyment and as a hobby to keep himself out of trouble and to get away from the problems in his community. But, he noted that he would also like to become a professional diver. “I haven’t gotten the opportunity as yet, but in due time. I talked to Mr Samuda from the Jamaica Olympic Association,” said the diver. He mentioned that Mr Samuda had not called him, but was certain that he had not forgotten about the team.

The crime in the community has left a lot of the divers disinterested in diving. “Nobody seems interested unless we’re doing exotic dives and that puts us at risk,” explained the diver. He noted that those dives were dangerous. When asked about the presence of lifeguards, he shared that the divers were taught by their parents who were mostly fishermen and fisherwomen.

The members of the team reported that the violence usually lasted a while in their community and could take up to a month to quell. During that time, they would be unable to dive. Additionally, the diver requested more policing in the community and expressed his longing for the violence to end. “It doesn’t make sense for the boy to fight a generation war,” he said.

Odean White, a 27-year-old member of the Waterfront Swimmers, agreed that the crime blocked their path to the sea. “It has a big impact because I work and walking to and from work is scary.  It is affecting businesses in the community. We have to walk down to the seaside and that is where the majority of the violence is happening,” said White. He has also decided not to dive for weeks.

Other members of the team 21-year-old ‘Lee’ and 57-year-old Michael Barret have also shared that they had to be careful when going to the seashore. The team wants some media attention, training and sponsorships, along with a chance to make it to the Olympics.

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