Saskatoon should enhance its water safety programs for immigrants, says a coroner's report into the drowning of a Pakistani immigrant at a city pool last year.

Muhammad Naqash Ali, 27, drowned at the Harry Bailey Aquatic Centre on June 8, 2012.

The report from Coroner Myrna Briggs, released Thursday, said Ali was an "inexperienced swimmer" and his death was accidental.

It detailed how Ali joined a group of friends for a free evening swim on a busy evening. Approximately 65 people were taking advantage of the free night, with about half of them in the deep end of the 50-metre-pool.

Ali's classmates were watching another classmate jump off the diving board, so they were not watching Ali.

At between 9:11 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., one of the lifeguards on duty spotted Ali lying on his back on the floor of the pool.  

Lifeguards removed him from the pool and performed CPR until paramedics arrived and carried on with resuscitation attempts. Ali was pronounced dead in hospital.

An autopsy showed no evidence of any medical events that may have put Ali in distress, nor did he have any drugs or alcohol in his system.

There were five fully-qualified lifeguards on duty that evening, and pool protocols around rotations and pool scans appear to have been followed. 

Immigrants at higher risk of drowning

"This tragic death highlights the need for water safety programs targeting new Canadians at the local, provincial and national level," said the report.

Ali moved to Canada from Pakistan in May 2011. At the time of his death he was studying English as a second language and working at a local coffee shop.

The report said research by the Lifesaving Society of Canada indicates that immigrants and foreign students are four times more likely to be unable to swim than people born in Canada, which puts them at higher risk of drowning.

Specifically, it recommended the City of Saskatoon and the Saskatoon branches of the Lifesaving Society and the Red Cross "identify and develop partnerships and strategies that recognize the unique cultural variations in our communities in order to encourage and enhance access and participation in water safety and education programs."