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Learning To Swim And Survive At Any Age

M E D I A A D V I S O R Y

Learning To Swim And Survive At Any Age


In Hamilton this Thursday morning the first Swim For Life certificates will be presented to swimmers from both ends of the age spectrum.

Swim For Life is an initiative to encourage children to learn to swim and survive – a core life skill, according to Water Safety New Zealand.

Learning to swim has not been compulsory in New Zealand schools for many years.

Drowning is a major cause of accidental death in New Zealand.

Water Safety New Zealand Executive Director, Alan Muir, says New Zealand has double the number of drownings per capita than Australia, and more than four times that of Great Britain.

“Drowning has always been known as The New Zealand Death,” says Muir, “Even though drowning deaths have reduced by 46% in the past 20 years it is still far too high. On average 124 people lose their lives to the water in this country, at a huge social cost to families, friends, and whanau.”

“However if you wanted to be hard-nosed about it I can tell you that the social cost of drowning is estimated at over $280 million each year.

Swim For Life is but one example of an educational intervention that aims to further reduce drowning deaths.

The first certificates will be presented on Thursday morning to a 5 year-old and a 94½ year-old.

Grace McKenzie (5) started as a nervous beginner, but became confident very quickly.

"Once she got going, she was away," her Mum (Sarah McKenzie) says, “Grace has been to swimming lessons every week ever since.”

Doris Hewitt (94) was born in May 1912. Doris needed one-on-one instruction when she first started. Instructor Camille Bennett, of Sue Mayo Swim School, says she has come a long way in a short time.

“She couldn't even get her feet off the bottom three years ago and couldn't put her face in. Each week we do a warm up routine, of walking and stretching. She learnt how to float from there,” says Camille.

"She just keeps going and going and going. She has never missed a session. Doris even gave up bowling to come to swimming!"

“It goes to show that it is never too late to learn to swim and survive. And good-on the parents of little Grace McKenzie… they are setting a very good standard for parents and caregivers of youngsters throughout the country.”

“Let’s hope that this is a trend that continues on for a very long time to come.”


Ends

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