UAE: Meet the siblings inspiring residents of all ages to swim for 'clean seas'

Felicia Agmyren and her brother Almer grew up surrounded by the sea, and this developed their deep connection with water


Waad Barakat

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Published: Thu 22 Feb 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 22 Feb 2024, 11:20 PM

Two UAE-based Swedish siblings, along with other participants, have swum about 400km – nearly the distance between Abu Dhabi and Oman – for their environmental initiative.

Felicia Agmyren and her brother Almer grew up surrounded by the sea in Sweden, and this developed their deep connection with water, such that they have pledged to protect and preserve this natural resource.

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They established the "Swim for Clean Seas" initiative back in 2018, organising swims of varying distances to cater to swimmers of all levels. Their primary goal was to instil a sense of appreciation and gratitude for the world's oceans. Their efforts attracted the attention of enthusiastic swimmers, including novices who were inspired to take part, immerse themselves in the experience, and realise the importance of ocean conservation.

“I grew up by the sea, I remember when I would touch the water, I would think with that childlike expression that this water has been floating around all over the globe, every single country and therefore, by being in the water, I’m connected with the world,” Felicia told Khaleej Times.

Swim to make a difference

Their motivation to raise environmental began during their travels. While scuba diving in the Philippines, Felicia was disheartened by the sight of bleached coral and a lack of marine life. A similar experience in Greece revealed the impact of pollution and overfishing on once-vibrant underwater ecosystems.

Now residing in Abu Dhabi, Felicia reminisces about her early days in the city, when it was a simpler place with only Corniche to explore. “I was 13 when I moved in Abu Dhabi and I remember growing up here there wasn’t much in Abu Dhabi, we didn’t have many malls or anything. It was just the Corniche, which was the cool place to be. And I remember when we would go for these little swimming adventures, we would swim from island to island, it was very different.”

Felicia's efforts gained momentum in Abu Dhabi, where she collaborated with the SeaWorld research and rescue centre.

This partnership allowed her to provide educational workshops and hands-on experiences to participants, focusing on topics like coral reef resilience and the dangers of plastic waste.

The response from the Abu Dhabi community has been overwhelmingly positive. Swimmers of all ages, from eight-year-olds to adults, have participated in the swims. Felicia and her team ensure that even the youngest participants have an engaging and educational experience. They organise interactive environmental games for children aged 3 to 5, teaching them about topics like plastic pollution through activities like "beach bingo" and "needle hunts."

Stewards of the seas

Recognising the importance of reaching out to the younger generation, Felicia implemented a school ambassador program as part of Swim for Clean Seas. This program involved engaging workshops and activities designed to educate students about the impact of pollution on oceans and inspire them to take action.

The response was significant, with 55 kids from over 17 schools signing up to become ambassadors for clean seas. Recently, they had their first workshop, titled 'Plastic Asking,' which provided a unique experiential learning opportunity about plastics and their journey through the world's seas.

Felicia underscored: “We believe if the young ones come home with knowledge taught in school to the family households it will help drive and implement sustainable and collective change faster and positively impact the community as a whole.”


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