Thursday, October 04, 2007

Respectable aquatic accomplishments or child abuse?

UPDATE: The Scotsman has made it official, it's child abuse: "...Photographs showed Li, wearing a skirted swimsuit, being picked up out of the water by her father. Her ankles were tied together with string and her hands were bound by a strip of cloth. A newspaper report said the girl was so cold her face was blue..." [Link]

The BBC had this to add: "...Bystanders accused the girl's parents of abusing and exploiting her, Xinhua said. [Link]

I was going to post five more links and several paragraphs but I will spare you my typos and bad grammar for a two paragraph summation. Girl swims with bound hands, feet tied. "...A father tied his 10-year-old daughter's hands and feet and watched her swim in a chilly southern China river for three hours in a task he said Thursday would help the girl achieve her dream of swimming across the English Channel....": [Link]

Seven year old swims from Alcatraz: [Link]
I simply call these kids child abuse victims for accomplishments like this smell of "Little League syndrome" on crack. When I read about kids swimming channels and such or vast open water stretches, I immediately believe they are more likely than not talked into it by their parents for what 8-year-old kid even knows where or what the Channel Islands are? What kid knows the significance of an Alcatraz swim let alone its history, how cold it is, how serious a swim it is et cetera when according to a National Geographic study half of American students can't find New York on a map and 63% can't find Iraq either. [reference: Link]

So, where did the motivation for an 8-year-old to swim all across creation come from? Two years ago these kids couldn't even read but now they know where and what the English channel is and what sort of wetsuit is needed for Alcatraz. Yeah, it smells of "Little League syndrome."


Scott said...

I can just imagine my reaction if my coach told me I was going to spend an entire practice swimming with my hands and feet bound - my reaction if he told me I'd have to do it for three hours in a river with him ready to rescue me should I need help would likely result in violence. I certainly hope there's a follow up article on the reaction and consequences to this. Some people shouldn't be parents.

Charlie said...

I remember back in 1995 when I was just getting into Ocean swimming and was training with the English Channel Swimming Assoication, there were two Indian children, a boy and a girl, both training to swim the English Channel. I can't remember their ages, but I am pretty sure they were certainly no more than 12.

I swam with both of them once in Dover harbour and was shocked at the size of these tiny kids being forced to swim round the harbour in water which I believe was around 52 degrees that day - it was early May and one of the first swims of the season. I was 17 at the time and struggled desperately with the cold myself - no wetsuits allowed for an official channel swim.

I didn't seem them again until later that summer when I was an observer on a France-England crossing. On the horizon we saw another pilot boat accompanying a swimmer going from England to France. As we got closer and closer I still couldn't see the swimmer. Eventually when we were about 100 yrds away I could just about make out this tiny little body splashing away. I will never forget the image of being 10 miles away from land and this minute child trying to attempt arguably one of the most difficult swims anywhere in the world.

I don't think he made it - I did hear rumours later that summer that the child had suffered permanent damage as a result of the stress placed on his body.

Child abuse - most definitely.

Tony Austin said...

You guys write better than I do, I should have outsourced the posting duties to you two.