Princess Charlene's love for the water didn't cease after marrying into the Monaco royal family nearly six years ago. In 2012, the former Olympic swimmer set up her namesake foundation — which has since reached 300,000 people in 30 countries — to teach children how to swim, in addition to essential water safety skills. Prince Albert's wife, who was born in South Africa, recently penned a passionate Op-Ed about the importance of water safety to mark the Day of the African Child on Friday, 16 June.
The former Olympic swimmer penned a powerful Op-Ed on water safety Photo: Michelly Rall/WireImage
"For a long time, water was my life. Discovering the joy of swimming inspired me to dedicate 20 years of my life to training and realizing my dream to be become an Olympic swimmer," the 39-year-old penned. "Training and competing in the water taught me the importance of discipline, respect for oneself and others, team spirit and dedication. Most significantly, I saw how learning to swim could not only change lives, as it did mine, but also save lives."
The Monaco royal is a mum to twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella Photo: Eric Mathon / Palais Princier
"My love affair with the water took me to sporting heights and it remains a huge part of my life whether surfing or paddleboarding, racing on a water bike for charity, crawling lengths in the pool or splashing around with my children," Charlene, who is a mother to two-year-old twins — Princes Jacques and Princess Gabriella — continued. "Despite that, I’m also all too aware of the risks associated with water. Learning to respect the water, and learning how to swim and stay safe in it can reduce these risks and give us great confidence and freedom."
Princess Charlene competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics Photo: Touchline/Getty Images
The Special Olympics ambassador noted that it was important for her to share her knowledge of water with young people during her competitive swimming career. The Princess added, "Now I have my own children, one of my top priorities has been to teach them to swim. It is an essential life skill, like learning to safely cross a road. Far too many people, often children, drown because they can't swim." Charlene also highlighted that drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in her native country. She wrote, "It's not much talked about. You could say it's a hidden epidemic in a supposedly dry continent."
The water safety advocate believes education is essential to saving lives Photo: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
In her capacity as patron of the South African Red Cross Society, the mom-of-two is "promoting water safety and learning to swim, as well as first aid and CPR training - for children and by children. Education like this is crucial to saving lives and stopping the needless grief that afflicts the families of those who drown," she explained. "Equipping young people with essential life skills will not just save lives, it will prepare them for a future in which they can be active and responsible citizens."
Charlene founded her namesake foundation in 2012 that teaches water safety Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Palais Princier de Monaco
The water safety advocate wrapped her powerful essay pleading to governments around the globe to help her save lives. "On this Day of the African Child, as we celebrate the joy, laughter and future of our precious children, I urge the world's governments to put water safety and the elimination of drowning on the development agenda," Charlene wrote. "If countries, NGOs, and international bodies join forces, drowning need no longer be a silent killer, whether in Africa or elsewhere. Together we can save lives – one person, one family, one community at a time. and so are our children."