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Swim and survive skills are key to summer fun

Swim and survive skills are key to summer fun

Water safety skills should be high on the checklist for a day at the Wellington region’s beaches, rivers or swimming pools this summer.

By the end of October this year the national drowning toll was 76. That figure is down on the 102 people who drowned by the same time in 2011. However Water Safety New Zealand is reminding parents and caregivers to ensure their children have the skills to swim and survive and to properly supervise them.

The Wellington Regional Fundamental Movement Skills Project funded by KiwiSport through Sport Wellington - which aims to develop and enhance key aquatic, movement and manipulative skills - is doing its bit to keep children safer in the water.

Since its inception in 2010, more than 11,000 children from 48 schools across the greater Wellington region engaged in swimming and water safety skill activities during 2010 and 2011. By the end of 2012 an additional 15,000 children from another 50 schools will have participated in eight, 30 minute Learn to Swim lessons.

Wainuiomata’s Arakura School joined the programme in February this year and saw a huge increase in pupil’s water confidence.

“As the children worked in small groups we saw a big shift in their swimming skills,” says teacher Cathryn Lea. “A number of our pupils don’t get the opportunity to have swimming lessons with their parents so it’s important we make the most of these programmes. Also as we don’t charge parents for the swimming programme, the KiwiSport subsidy makes a big difference for our school.”

Year 5 and 6 pupils at Waitohu School, Otaki, also gained in water confidence. “Learn to Swim was fantastic; the kids learned to cooperate, gained in confidence in the water and really enjoyed the twice-a-week sessions,” says teacher Alison Moore. “We’ve also had great feedback from parents who have seen their kids’ swimming skills develop.”

KiwiSport has invested more than $400,000 in Learn to Swim across the region since 2010. However it is just one of several programmes including water safety elements which have been funded. Others include Worser Bay Boating Club’s ‘have a go@sailing’, Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club’s ‘introduction to sailing’, Kapiti Boating Club’s ‘go sailing’ programme and Surf NZ’s ‘surfing in schools’.

“Having the skills to swim and survive should be basic for all Kiwi kids,” says KiwiSport Manager Peter Woodman-Aldridge. “That’s why we’ve put so much emphasis on supporting this programme as part of the overall Fundamental Movement Skills Project. Sport Wellington sees swimming and water safety as a life skill – we want kids to safely enjoy any water-based opportunities they decide to engage in.”

The KiwiSport FMS Project is facilitated by Hutt City Council. It aims to provide children with the building blocks and confidence to participate effectively in sport throughout life. MoveMprove, Football in Schools and Get Set Go along with Learn to Swim are delivered through schools to help increase the skill level of children in movement, manipulation, stability and aquatics.


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