Lockdown takes its toll on swimming teacher

Tanya Briscoe has been feeling the financial pressures of Covid-19.

Things were going along swimmingly
enough for Fish Hoek swim school
teacher Tanya Briscoe until Covid-19
lockdown threw her into the deep end of a
financial nightmare. 

Tanya, who’s affectionately known as
Dory by her pupils, took out a loan to rent a
new property at the start of what was at first a
21-day lockdown – the lease on her previous
premises had expired and she needed somewhere with a pool for her business. 
She expected to come out of lockdown
soon, grow her clientele and then pay off
the loan. 
“Instead, it’s been hell since then. Every
day is a battle. All I want to do is swim, teach
people to swim. When I am in the water, the
rest of the world goes away, and its bliss,”
she says. 
There is no doubt teaching swimming is
Tanya’s joy. The other is her son, Liam, 11. 
“When he was born, I made a promise to
him he would never go without,” she says. “I
did, growing up. I don’t want that for him.” 
Swim schools will re-open on Saturday
July 4, after tireless lobbying from Swim
South Africa, the umbrella body for registered and affiliated swim schools, but the
months that Tanya has been unable to earn
an income have taken their toll.
Her rent is
due but there is no money to pay it. All that
was left of the loan is gone. Tanya is running
on empty and running out of options. 
She bought a heating pump for her pool,
but the seller didn’t deliver and she was told
Covid-19 had up-ended the supplier.
She has
been wrangling the person since March to
get her money back, but without the pump,
she can’t open even now that she can.
She is relying on handouts from the few
people who know of her situation. 
have bought her electricity, others, food.
And everywhere she is applying for credit
she is being turned down. 
Tanya suffers from borderline personality disorder and the stress of her financial
predicament is not helping her condition.
“The whole country is in self isolation,
but this is my usual life: this sense of isolation, of being alone, that people are feeling
now and freaking out about? That’s my usual
state. It doesn’t help me to think that this
isn’t my doing or my fault. I just feel utterly
responsible, like I am a complete failure
and, worst, that I am failing my child,” she
Tanya is on medication and takes it as
prescribed, calling it a lifesaver, but the
medication needs to be taken with food. 
Ward councillor Felicity Purchase says a
number of people in the greater valley area,
from all walks of life, have been referred to
the City because they are on medication for
what are either considered mental illnesses
or behavioural issues. 
“They get enough food to eat every day so
that they don’t take their pills on an empty
stomach. Some of them have children and,
of course, it’s important that their meds are
working for the stability of the household.
We will continue to supply them with food
until we find an alternative mechanism of
support for them.” 
She has a team of volunteers collecting
donations and making and distributing 30
to 50 food parcels a week. 
“We are grateful for each donation
because it allows us to sustain those who
really need help.” 
A BackaBuddy page has been set up to
help Tanya. Visit it here