Youngsters flood to learn-to-swim course

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2014
Swimming programme
ROBYN EDIE/ Fairfax NZ

WATER CONFIDENCE: Aroha Staple watches carefully at the free swimming lessons being held at Splash Palace. 

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An 11-year-old who has never learnt to swim has taken to the water as part of a free swimming programme in Invercargill.

Aroha Stapleforth was one of dozens of 11 to 13-year-olds who made the most of the free Breakaway Swimming Programme at Splash Palace yesterday.

Aroha said she had never had a swimming lesson and was unable to swim.

She was part of a family of seven, so trips to the beach or river did not really happen, she said.

Aroha said she was a little bit excited to be starting her lessons yesterday, but quite nervous too.

Swim School co-ordinator Marie McQueen said the programme was designed for young people who were unable to swim, and whose families may not be able to afford to pay for lessons.

"It is to build confidence and water skills so that they can go to the pool with their friends and not have to sit on the sideline," Mrs McQueen said.

This was the first time such a programme had been offered in Invercargill.

"We applied for funding for 10 children, but have had 16 register for the first week, and 18 for the second week," she said.

The lessons go for four hours every day for five days. "They do 45 minutes of swimming and an hour of diving lessons, before doing a water safety programme where they learn about things like always wearing a life jacket, then have team building water games in the afternoon," she said.

Mrs McQueen hoped she could secure funding to run the programme again at Easter.

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