PanAm Aquatics held a learn-to-swim event in Jamaica to help the youth become more comfortable around water ©PanAm Aquatics

Four-time short-course world champion Alia Atkinson and Patrick Groters, who is a Pan American Junior Games record-holder, held free swimming programmes in Montego Bay, Jamaica, along with PanAm Aquatics.

The duo, alongside Jamaica's Zaneta Alvarenga, helped children learn to be safe around water and avoid drowning.

The residents of Montego Bay had to become creative in teaching and learning how to swim as they only have one 50 metre pool in Jamaica.

Maureen Croes, the PanAm Aquatics President, expressed how impressive the turnout was for the programme.

"PanAm Aquatics is proud but most of all grateful, to the flexible and expertise of the open water and communications team that we brought to Jamaica who was able to rally the community and put the focus on learning to swim and techniques for open water," said Croes.

"This will transfer to the pool with the assistance of incredible swimming stars from the Caribbean."

The event had an open water stroke technique lesson for local swimmers that involved former competitors Rick Walter and Dennis Ryther.

The nearest training pool to the swim clubs is over three hours away, forcing them to hold sessions amongst the waves and tourists at the beach.

Jamaican-born Alia Atkinson attended the programme in order to help children learn swimming ©Getty Images
Jamaican-born Alia Atkinson attended the programme in order to help children learn swimming ©Getty Images

The learn-to-swim programme rounded off with a junior 1 kilometre and 3km open water competition in Doctor Cave's Beach on the northern coast of Jamaica, which is part of the PanAm Open Water series that began in Cayman Islands on March 3.

The winner of the men's 3km race was Benjamin Davis, who is a Montego Bay resident.

"I enjoyed the 3k here in Montego Bay," said Davis.

"I usually train on this beach so I am familiar with the course.

"I am happy to come away with the victory." 

Leanna Wainwright, who won the women's 3km event, was thankful to take part in the competition.

"For the open water event, it was a very good experience," said the 15-year-old.

"I would like to thank PanAm Aquatics for bringing it here. 

"It was a pretty challenging course for me but I am happy for the experience and I would do it again." 

The PanAm Aquatics Open Water series is set to finish in Puerto Rico from March 16 to 19.