Over the course of a week, swim schools across the country will offer free swimming lessons to children under the age of five as part of the water safety initiative, with registrations still open for swim schools to sign up.
Should swim schools not be not open in certain communities due to COVID-19 restrictions, a free class voucher valid for 12 months will be issued, so all kids have a chance to benefit.
The initiative comes after new research from Poolwerx revealed around 15 percent of parents surveyed still know someone who had, or directly encountered, a near-drowning experience.
Former All Black and Poolwerx ambassador Tamati Ellison said swimming was a key part of his childhood.
“Growing up my siblings and I spent a lot of time around the water which helped us develop key swimming skills plus build amazing memories,” he said.
“Learning how to swim and feel confident in the water is important at all ages. For us Kiwis, it allows you to enjoy the New Zealand summer and keep whanau safe in and around the water.
“Tamaiti akoana ki Te kaukau, noho haumaru ki Te wai, Tau Ana. Okea ki a Urorotia ako ki Te kaukau I tenei rā: A person who learns to swim is safer in the water. Give it your best, learn to swim today.”
He’s put together some top tips for other parents wanting to be more proactive with swim safety.
Enroll for swim school
Enrolling your children in swimming classes from an early age is extremely beneficial as it helps to grow their self-esteem and confidence in the water. Swim lessons also have many additional benefits, such as building children’s social skills through interacting with others in the same environment.
Talk about it
Actively educate your children on swim safety by explaining what actions are and are not acceptable when around the water. You could even create a list of swimming rules that you run through before heading into the pool or ocean.
Nominate a responsible pool person
While pool safety is everyone’s responsibility, it helps to nominate one or multiple people to act as responsible pool person and oversee those in and around the pool. This way someone is always on guard and will help put parents’ minds at ease.
If something does happen to go wrong, it’s important you know the best way to handle the situation. Make sure you’re clued up when it comes to water safety and basic water rescue skills. If you have the opportunity to do a first aid course and learn CPR, definitely take it up.
Check the conditions
Swimming in the ocean can be incredibly unpredictable. Always check the conditions and keep an eye on depth, distance, rips and currents. Make sure you and your children feel comfortable and confident before heading in.