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ASAA planning 1.2 mile swim in Pago Pago harbor

Since the summer of 2011, the American Samoa Aquatics Agency (ASAA) has given out free swimming lessons in open waters, taught open water survival techniques along with open water safety lessons, and worked to help make the  public aware of the importance of ocean preservation.

Headed by Zero Iaulualo, who has over thirty years experience and training in the field of aquatics and a deep love of the ocean, the ASAA will be holding an event next month as Iaulualo and members of the ASAA will be making a 1.2 mile swim in Pago Pago harbor, extending from the village of Aua to Utulei Beach Park.

“We will be doing this swim on Saturday, December 29 to not only bring in the new year, but to close out the old year — and to raise awareness of ocean preservation as well as along with the importance of learning how to swim. We also wish to highlight the Samoana High School OS/OS class,” said Iaulualo.

Along with the Department of Commerce, ASAA is currently part of the Ocean Science/Ocean Swimming (OS/OS) class at Samoana High School, with the ASAA once again teaching the ocean swimming part of the class.

To raise ocean awareness, Iaulualo said there will be two courses during the Saturday swim.

The main one is for the more experienced swimmers, and that will be from Aua to Utulei Beach, while the other course will be from Utulei beach to Gatavai (Tank Farm) and back to Utulei beach. This course will be closer to the shore, but it will be the same distance. The Aua course is in deeper water.

“The course that will be closer to the shore will be for those less experienced swimmers,” he said.

Iaulualo went on to say that the ASAA is working with some of the OS/OS students who are interested in making the swim and is working on the details on which course the students will swim.

The ASAA head also wishes to inform the public that if anyone wishes to join the swim on Dec. 29, to come down to the beach as soon as possible during the training hours so he can judge their swimming ability. There is no fee to sign up for this event.

This is not the first time the ASAA has been involved in such a swim. On May 12th of this year, they were involved in a 9-mile relay swim that was from Aunu’u Island to Utulei Beach Park to mark the beginning of the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuaries/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ‘Ocean Week’.

This swim involved members of the ASAA who are also part of the Toa o’le Tai (Ocean Heroes) program. Joining them for that swim were members from the Department of Public Safety Marine Patrol and world renowned marathon swimmer Bruckner Chase.

Before the Aunu’u relay swim, Chase made the same swim — solo — in May of 2011 to raise awareness of the impact we all have on the oceans, and how we can commit ourselves to changing how we feel about the waters around us.

Iaulualo said that he is inviting government agencies who wish to get involved with the swim, which will take place starting at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29, and he hopes there will be a great turnout of not only government agencies but the general public as well.

He went on to explain that all of these free swimming lessons which they have been giving since the summer of 2011, would not have been possible if it were not for government agencies and partners who were kind enough to donate funding to help them to promote and give free swimming lessons, such as the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Commerce, who he gave special thanks for their contributions.

“We have had so much help in doing what we are doing. I have to give special thanks to Samoa News also, who has been great to us, by putting out the word for us as a community service,” he said.

After this swim, the ASAA will be gearing up to head over to Samoa for the three-day ‘Samoa Swim Series’ that will be taking place from July 31 to August 2, 2013.

“We are looking at participating in this big event in Samoa to see where our swimmers stand and see how they do. Everything they have learned by that time, will be put to the test. We are definitely trying to keep our swimmers active,” Iaulualo said.

He further noted that anyone can join the ASAA, but they must be at least ten years of age. If you wish to join the ASAA, they meet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Utulei Beach Park at 3:00 p.m. (depending on the weather and condition of the water). There is no fee to join the swimming organization.