Aluva: This summer vacation as many as 900 children are gearing up for swimming lessons in the Periyar under ace trainer Saji Valassery. The coaching lessons are given in the shallow part of the river enclosed by iron pipes. He has set aside life jackets, rubber tubes and ambulance as classes progresses from 6.45 am to 9 am in three batches.
The training session that lasts for 20 days make the children competent enough to swim across the Periyar. Swimming classes are imparted to 300 children in batches of three for 60 days.
A batch of ‘seniors’ comprising those employed in the Armed Forces, Fire and Rescue Services besides doctors and teachers had started their swimming lessons in January.
Saji Valassery took to swimming training in the Periyar nine years ago. So far he has given coaching to 2,250 students. Four hundred and twenty six children and 176 adults have braved the Periyar currents and crossed the river single-handedly.
Twelve-year-old visually-impaired Navaneeth, LKG girl Nivedita and polio-afflicted Roji Joseph are among a few in the elite list who have trained under Saji. He can be contacted at 94464 21278.