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Swim For Life Makes A Splash

Swim For Life Makes A Splash

The vision is this – ‘Lets have all children in New Zealand being able to swim 200m by the time they go to high school’.

For the cynics potentially this vision is just another one of those ideas to throw a few rocks at or have a good old laugh about.

But with three people drowning on average each week in New Zealand, is this something to laugh about – not really, just ask the families of those who have drowned!

In fact it is a very good reason to motivate some action to prevent such a horrendous situation.

So rather than throwing up gruesome scenes of people struggling and gasping for breath as life slips from their grasp through drowning, lets focus on the root of the problem.

Water Safety New Zealand has done just this, today announcing the new Swim For Life promotion which is aimed at curbing the New Zealand drowning rate, and making our water environments enjoyable for all users.

Water Safety New Zealand Executive Director Alan Muir believes one drowning a year is bad enough, let along 130.

As a result Water Safety New Zealand has decided to lay down the ‘learn to swim challenge’ to all New Zealanders

“This will then give everyone the best chance of saving themselves if they get into a potential drowning situation,” said Alan Muir.

“And when you consider that the majority of those who drown did not actually expect to be in the water, being able to swim and survive in water is rather important.”

Swim For Life is targeting young people and their parents aiming to ensure every child has the chance to develop what is a core life-skill. In the first instance Water Safety New Zealand has contracted eight regional sports trusts across various New Zealand communities to promote and advocate the need and benefits of learning to swim.

The sports trusts will include the promotion in the work they already undertake with primary schools.

Included in the pilot regions are Sport Northland, Counties Manukau Sport, Sport Waikato, Sport Bay of Plenty, Sport Hawke’s Bay, Sport Wellington Region, Sport Tasman and Sport Canterbury/Westland.

“The Swim For Life promotion is the first time in 50 years that anyone had looked to implement an initiative of this kind that has the potential to impact so positively on all New Zealand communities”, says Alan Muir.

“What we aim to achieve is that all children by the age of 12 years can swim 200 metres confidently and competently along with being aware of water safety awareness skills.

“Provision is included in the project for groups that through physical or mental disabilities can not achieve the goal,” he said.

“We realise this is a big ask, it is not something that is going to happen overnight and therefore we will have to be committed for a significant period.”

A survey of all schools in the pilot regions is underway so that a clear picture of the issues impacting on swim development and training can be realised.

To support the Swim For Life promotion Water Safety New Zealand has also involved the Ministry of Education, Swimming New Zealand, Swim Coaches and Teachers New Zealand, public pools and their managers.

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