LUSAKA, Nov 14 - We swim in the Goma Lakes because we lack social amenities, said 16-year-old Chola of Kalingalinga compound.
Chola, a grade six pupil at Kalingalinga Primary School walks to University of Zambia's (UNZA) Great East Road campus with his friends aged between 12 and 16 to swim in the Goma Lakes as a pastime.
However, he admits that their swimming trips had not been easy because they are sometimes chased by the UNZA security.
"We are sometimes confronted by the University security but we normally talk to them and sometimes buy them cigarettes," Chola says. "They are usually good people."
When asked whether they were not scared of contracting diseases in the contaminated water, Chola's colleague Felix intercepted: "We know that this water is dirty but none of us has ever fallen sick as a result of swimming in this dirty water."
Felix said swimming kept them busy because they could not afford expensive places like the Olympia Swimming Pool, which is situated in an elite residential area.
Richard Phiri, another Goma Lakes swimmer, said they usually made their trips to the University campus around 16:00 hours daily except for weekends when they swim in the morning and afternoon.
UNZA spokesperson Mulife Malambo said management had been facing the problem of "swimming boys" for a long time.
He said the problem had been compounded by lack of adequate security at the institution.
"Sometimes we manage to clear them. It's illegal, we don't entertain that," Malambo said. "We are constrained by lack of manpower in the security department."
Malambo said the boys' health was also at risk because the water was not good for swimming.
"The boys could have been forced into swimming because of lack of social amenities in the communities," he said.
However, Malambo blamed parents for not looking after and monitoring their children closely.
He said the UNZA management would soon landscape the lawns around the Goma Lakes to make them more appealing to the general public.
Malambo said the University would soon start charging a fee for people who wanted to use the area for some functions.