SINGAPORE - A six-year-old girl who died in hospital following a swimming incident at a public pool was cremated on Friday (Jan 12).
The girl, whose surname is Ler, was found floating unconscious at Kallang Basin swimming complex during her swimming lesson on Dec 20.
She was believed to be waiting for her turn in the 0.9m-deep pool as the coach was giving one-on-one guidance to the class of five. She was found unconscious at about 7.20pm. She spent 20 days in hospital before she died on Tuesday.
At the girl's funeral in a temple along Race Course Road on Friday, family members asked for privacy, declining to be interviewed.
A relative told The Straits Times in Mandarin: "She was well-loved by everyone. It was a tragedy."
In earlier reports, her paternal grandmother told Shin Min Daily News, a Chinese-language evening paper, that her granddaughter was a very obedient girl and she was due to start Primary 1 this year.
A spokesman for Sport Singapore (SportSG), which runs the swimming complex, said the coach had been suspended from teaching at public pools.
While SportSG decides which coaches are allowed to teach at their pools, coaches are free to recruit students on a case-by-case basis. They can also teach at private pools.
Coaches told The Straits Times that it can be a challenge to keep an eye on students during lessons, as they can have up to 10 students at public pools.
An important practice is that students must be in front of a coach at all times.
Mr David Lim, 51, who runs Swim Fast Aquatic Group, said: "Coaches cannot turn their backs to the kids."
Mr Michael Teoh, 52, who has been coaching for 25 years, said: "We cannot leave them alone, even while others are practising their strokes."
Beginners must have floating aids with them, he added.
Another safety practice is that students must be within the coaches' reach.
Mr Lim said: "If anything happens, the coaches must be able to reach their students quickly. They cannot be, say, 10m or 15m away."
Coaches may have different methods of ensuring their students' safety. Some may prefer to have their students sitting on the edge of a pool, while others may prefer to have them hold on to the wall while they are practising kicks in the pool - a method which Mr Teoh prefers.
He said: "Children may catch a cold if they sit on the pool's edge for too long."
Another danger is that they may hurt themselves if they fall into the pool while playing with each other, he added.
Another crucial factor is the environment.
"Sometimes, pools can get very crowded. It is better to find an exclusive area (for coaches to focus on their students)," said Mr Lim.
The girl's death comes after a drowning in May last year when a boy died in a lap pool at the Bukit Batok Service Club.