For the last three months, policemen deputed at various coastal posts have been taking swimming lessons. However, due to water cuts at the BMC-run swimming pool in Worli, classes for the remaining batches have been cancelled until further notice. Of the 230 officers attached with the port zone, only 120 have been trained in swimming so far.
“After the general transfers earlier this year, we identified that most policemen, especially those who need to get on to police boats, were not confident regarding their swimming skills. Hence, we had to ensure that at least these officers can cross over onto another boat or be at sea without hesitation,” a senior police officer said.
Earlier this year, the Mumbai police had approached the Navy to assist and train some officers in “deep sea swimming” in a swimming pool belonging to the Navy in South Mumbai.
A Navy official, who did not wish to be named, said that the police had indeed approached them. “It was the first such request by Mumbai police. Their officers can at least swim to survive now,” said the official, who was involved in teaching some of the policemen.
The first batch of officers to be taught swimming was split into two groups. While one set was trained by the Navy at their swimming pool, the other lot was being taught in the BMC-run swimming pool in Worli.
“The training was for a month-three times a week with one-hour long sessions. The first session began on July 31 and all the policemen who needed to be on the 20 boats on the sea are better equipped to swim,” said Kirankumar Chavan, deputy commissioner of police, port zone.
According to the police, one head constables and two constables are deputed on each police boat. Police officials further said that the coast guard used to train the police attached with the port zone for coastal security, but not specifically swimming.
“Time was never invested in teaching us swimming. It is an important trait to have in a city like Mumbai, not only because we are at sea but also because it comes handy in case of a disaster,” said a senior police officer who admitted that there is no specific record to know how officers knew swimming on the force.
An officer, who was trained in the first batch at the Navy swimming pool, said that officers aged less than 50 years were preferred to be taught. “Age does play a major role, as it is not easy to acquire swimming skills when one is older. In the three-lane swimming pool at the Navy facility, we used just one lane. An ambulance was kept ready for emergency,” said the police officer.