CHIANGRAI TIMES – Kaitlyn Dalrymple, 17, never thought her love of swimming could save lives. However, after reading that more than 3,000 Thai youths drown each year in their rice fields, she felt compelled to act.
The fields become flooded after driving rainstorms and monsoons.
Dalrymple, a Lauralton Hall junior, said she wanted to do something to help. She came upon the Rustic Pathways program, which connects U.S. high school students and with youths in other countries.
Dalrymple, who lives in town, has been swimming since she was 5 years old. She said that after finding out about the Thai drownings, she knew it was a natural for her to assist.
“I’ve always wanted to help people,” Dalrymple said. “I love swimming, as I always wanted to be a marine biologist.
“The water makes you feel free,” she added. “There is no pressure. It makes you float.”
She will be in Thailand July 30 through Aug. 17. She will be introduced to the culture, and live with monks. She will visit an orphanage. She will teach youths how to float in a pool.
“The children have never seen a pool before, so it will be interesting to know they will react to that,” Dalrymple said.
Most of them know how to swim, but panic in the rice fields. She said they don’t know how deep the water is, and start flailing.
Dalrymple said she will teach them how to remain calm and kick. She will advise them to hang onto debris when necessary.
Dalrymple is a member of Lauralton’s swim team, and captain of the school’s junior varsity softball team.
Rustic Pathways, which is a nonprofit, is paying most of the costs, but not the $3,000 airfare. Donations to contribute to Dalrymple’s airfare can be made through Rustic Pathways.
Kaitlyn’s father, Brian Murray Dalrymple, said he is so impressed by his daughter. She’s gone from hanging out at the mall to wanting to fly overseas to help children.
“She just blew me away when she told me,” he said.
“She just loves swimming. She’s not the fastest swimmer … but she just loves it. She’s always been swimming.”
Kaitlyn Dalrymple said she can’t wait for the trip.
“I really want to have that experience. It will probably change my life,” she said.
Once she returns, she hopes to teach Orange youths how to swim.