By Nina Kalirai
Questions are being asked about the Toronto District School Board’s swim test protocols, after 15-year-old Jeremiah Perry drowned on a canoe trip to Algonquin Park. Shari Schwartz-Maltz, a spokesperson for TDSB, Canada’s largest school board, said...
Shari Schwartz-Maltz, a spokesperson for TDSB, Canada’s largest school board, said :
"One of the standard swim tests is conducted in the pool, it would involve water safety, laps and underwater endurance, and most, if not all students are required to take an outdoor swim test in a lake.
A friend of Jeremiah’s, 17-year-old Boran Balci, said that everyone who went on the canoe trip was required to take a swim test 2 or 3 weeks ago, where they spent 2 days at Sparrow Lake, about 150km north of Toronto.
Principal Monday Gala, at C. W. Jeffreys Collegiate Institute, the high school Jeremiah was attending, said, “This matter is an active investigation and everybody is sad about this. And for me actually, I think that is where the focus should be. The focus being on a grieving family, on a school that is dealing with losing someone they know."
3 of the 6 adults who were travelling with the 33 students, had life saving certification, and Jeremiah’s friend Boran said a lifeguard was watching when he, Jeremiah and the other students went into the water.
Boran then said:
“I was swimming and something pulled me down. Something pulled my left leg and after my right leg. I was looking around and there was no Jeremiah. Where is Jeremiah? I didn’t think it was Jeremiah. It was oily skin. It was like fish. I felt hand pulling me down.”
Ontario Provincial Police said Jeremiah was swimming in Big Trout Lake, a remote area of Algonquin Park, where he ran into the water without a life jacket, despite having passed the swim test in weeks prior.
The school trip ended ahead of schedule after the incident, and the remaining students were taken out of the campground. The students boarded a plane, which flew to a meeting point where buses were ready to take them back to Toronto. 18 of the 33 students returned to Toronto early the following morning, with the remainder returning the next day.