The woman who died while aqua-jogging at the Kilbirnie swimming pool was a mother of three.
Lifeguards and pool users, including a nurse and a fireman, went to the aid of Motuiliu Groom, 49, at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre. Fire, police, and ambulance were called to the eastern suburbs centre at 6.45am yesterday.
But despite efforts by pool and Wellington Free Ambulance staff to revive Groom using defibrillators and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the Lyall Bay mother died soon afterwards, police said.
Jill McCarthy, who was training with a swim squad at the pool, said about 35 people using the lanes had been asked "very calmly" to leave while the efforts to revive Groom continued.
"There was no panic and the lifeguards were very calm and collected about it all," she said.
The pool was closed, and reopened about midday after a blessing.
Wellington City Council parks, sports and recreation manager Paul Andrews sent an email to staff yesterday saying Groom "got into difficulties while aqua-jogging in the main pool".
"All staff involved are receiving support and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time," he wrote. "I want to offer my thanks to all the [pool] staff who worked very hard this morning to try to save the woman's life. They are a credit to our organisation."
Groom was a payroll officer for Wellington Newspapers and later Fairfax Media, which owns The Dominion Post, from 1989 to 2003.
Fairfax central region human resources manager Tim Nunan said she was "well liked by all and, as a payroll person, was known to all".
Her colleagues had kept in regular touch with her after she left, through social and sporting engagements, and had fond memories of talking to her in recent weeks, he said.
Groom's neighbour of seven years, Estelle Mulligan, said she was always struck by her friendliness and generosity. "She always said ‘hi' - every day. She was always with family, happy and smiling. She was lovely."
She said Groom was a regular churchgoer.
The death has been referred to the coroner.
- The Dominion Post