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Ocean Science/Ocean Swimming class underway with dedicated teachers

The Ocean Science/Ocean Swimming (OS/OS) Class of Samoana High School is in its second year, second semester, with just over 20 students in the class that are not only learning how to swim, learning about water safety, water survival and how to save lives in the water, they are also learning about Marine Science. The Ocean Swimming part of the class is being taught by highly qualified swimming instructors from the American Samoa Aquatics Agency (ASAA), that is lead by Zero Iaulualo who has over 30 years experience and training in aquatics. The Ocean Science part of the class is taught by the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa who also funds the OS/OS class. One of the reasons the OS/OS class came about in January of 2012, is because of the efforts of endurance waterman and ocean advocate Bruckner Chase, who came to American Samoa in May of 2011 to make a nine- mile swim from Aunu’u Island to Utulei Beach Park to raise awareness of the ocean. This in turn lead to the OS/OS Class being implemented by the Department of Education with Samoana High School having the pilot class. This not only inspired the young students of Samoana to learn about swimming and marine science, it also gave them a chance to exercise their bodies by learning how to swim correctly. Obesity has been a problem that has plagued the territory for some time, as reported by Samoa News. One of the swimming instructors of the OS/OS Class is 20 year old Daniel Saifoloi who is not only teaching the class about swimming in the open ocean, but also working with them in becoming fit and in shape, which is something that he said should become a part of their lifestyle. “I see work with these young kids that I am only a few years older than, and for the most part they listen to me pretty well. I know that by teaching them how to swim and the other things that come along with them learning in the water, I also teach them different exercises that they have never done before, so their bodies will respond in a positive way, than just doing the same exercise routine that they are accustomed to,” said Saifoloi.“Everyone knows that there is weight problem, not only here in American Samoa, but in the US and other countries as well, and I want to try and do something about it, by starting with the OS/OS Class. I see fitness as a lifestyle. There is so much good that comes from being fit. Not only for your body, but for your mind also”. He explained that he was born with asthma and growing up he would have asthma attacks, which limited his involvement in physical activity. He then started to run a young age and kept running until his lungs were conditioned to support his body. “Surprisingly I did pretty well at running. I had run so often, that the asthma just of disappeared. I knew then that fitness no longer became a matter of choice. I needed to stay fit, which made things a lot of easier. I made it part of who I am today,” he said. Saifoloi is not only a swim instructor for the ASAA and part of the Bruckner Chase Toa o le Tai (Ocean Heroes) Program, he is also at this time training with the Ohana Running Club to compete in international events in track and field representing American Samoa. “If we never challenge ourselves beyond our limits, we end up staying in the same spot without any improvement. This is what I am trying to instill in these young students of the OS/OS Class,” he said. Samoa New also spoke with some of the students about how they feeling physically at this time and if the class was helping them become more fit. “I think the class is really cool. I haven’t dropped much weight, but I feel a lot better physically,” said one student. “I can move a lot better and my body is more lose than before. I can do more pushups and sit-ups than a couple moths ago,” said another student. According to the Centers for Disease Control website, swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States and a good way to get regular aerobic physical activity. Just two and half hours per week of aerobic physical activity, such as swimming, bicycling, or running can decrease the risk of chronic illness. Also, according to the website this can lead to improved health for people with diabetes and heart disease. The website also stated that swimmers have about half the risk of death compared with inactive people. People report enjoying water-based exercise more than exercising on land. They can also exercise longer in water than on land without increased effort or joint and muscle pain.