Safety in the Water
Not learning to swim as a kid was never an option for me. Growing up in a household that lived close to the biggest lake in the southern hemisphere, it was inevitable we had to learn to swim, or sit on the shorelines.
It probably also had to do with the fact my Mum was a learn to swim water safety teacher, among other things. Having not learnt herself to swim until well into adulthood, she was determined to right her childhood wrongs with us. We also had the privilege of school swimming lessons. Part of the curriculum. Part of the fun. Learning at the same time.
A privilege that is quite rare these days with the closure of so many school swimming pools to make way for more classrooms, too costly to run, or simply because teachers are too busy and no one has dedicated time to spend teaching kids to swim.
But it’s so important. Our drowning stats in NZ are horrendous. Given we are surrounded by water, this is appalling. I’ve been a proponent for the "Bring Back School Pools” campaign run by Water Safety NZ and Garnier. There are currently 380 school swimming pools on the “critical list”, as in they’re likely to be shut down.
So when it comes to my kids, I put them in the pool as soon as we could. 3 months old from memory. And we’ve been taking weekly swimming lessons ever since. There is definitely a variation in quality of lessons at different centres, and different teachers, but I love the YMCA’s swim programme which is run in small groups, with a huge emphasis on safety, skills and listening. The first lesson drummed in is to never go near water without an adult. Invaluable.
It’s also common for swimming to be dropped over the winter months, but this is wrong! Keep your kids in the pool all year round, so that they’re stronger and ready for the water come summer time. Let’s encourage our kids to learn to swim, to have confidence in the water year round so we can all keep safe in the water.