Swim classes set to benefit kids
Every 7 to 11 year old in Timaru should be safer in the water by the end of the year, thanks to a sponsored Swim for Life programme being run in South Canterbury for the first time.
Almost 1400 year 3 to 6 students from 12 schools will receive 10 subsidised 30-minute lessons from fully-trained swim instructors at CBay.
It is the first time the programme has been offered in South Canterbury. CBay programmes team leader Jane Sullivan said close to 14,000 subsidised lessons would be offered thanks to funding received from the Kiwi Sport Regional Partnership Fund, Water Safety NZ, Sealord and Trust Aoraki, as well as support from the Timaru District Council and Sport Canterbury.
The 10 lessons would cost each child $15, whereas it would usually cost $35 for the same number of lessons if they learnt to swim through their school-run programme.
The lessons will be part of the national Swim for Life programme aimed at ensuring all children can swim 200m fully clothed by the time they are 12, and have the essential skills to stay safe in the water.
Ms Sullivan said it was the largest swimming initiative ever undertaken in South Canterbury.
''We are serious about making sure Timaru's kids are safe - swimming and water sports are part of our kiwi way of life: however, we know many children are missing out on the opportunity to learn these vital skills.''
The emphasis of the Swim for Life programme was more on learning to swim and water survival skills, rather than the more technical aspects of learning to swim as taught in the council's own swim school.
She said a real advantage of the programme was all participants received a passport which recorded their progress. Those details were recorded on a national data base which meant the child's progress could be monitored against others their age. If a child changed school, their new school would know what level they had reached.
Ms Sullivan was confident the system would ensure youngsters did not ''fall between the cracks'' when it came to gaining water safety skills.
It was hoped the results of this year's programme would be sufficient to attract enough funding to extend it to all South Canterbury 7 to 11 year olds next year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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