According to Water Safety New Zealand, 10 people drowned in New Zealand waters between December 24 and January 5.
Your child might be able to swim well, but can they identify a rip at the beach and know what to do if they’re caught in one? Cross a river safely? Keep themselves safe if their kayak capsizes?
Those alarming statistics have prompted Gore’s Leaping Frogs Swim School to launch The Guards, a new programme designed to give young people the skills to keep themselves, and others, safe while in and around water.
Swim School co-ordinator Jo Cheesbrough said she wanted to put water safety at the front of people’s minds.
The course was designed with New Zealand conditions in mind, she said.
“When parents see children can swim a length of the pool they think their swimming lesson days are over, but we want to change their mindset. That’s just the beginning.
“We have a river on our doorstep but a lot of children don’t know that if they get swept away, if they turn onto their back and kick. It can really make a difference.”
The Guards programme will give children and young people water safety skills that will equip them to recognise dangers and respond safely to emergencies.
Members of the Oreti Beach Surf Club will teach surf safety, including identifying rips, wave types and flags.
Swimming instructor Keziah McCornick will teach children about walking safely through rivers, submerged dangers and climbing up greasy banks.
McCornick will also cover pool rules and lifeguard qualifications, along with boat safety, including what do do in a capsize, safety and weather checks.
Emphasis will be placed on survival strokes, sculling and treading water in all water conditions so children can keep themselves safe in all scenarios.
There will be land-based classes and first aid skills will also be taught.
There is no age limit for children to take part, but they need to be confident in deep water.
Cheesbrough said the course was a first for the swim school, possibly New Zealand.
“There is water safety included in all the lessons here but I’m not sure if other pools are doing this.”
ARTICLE FROM: www.stuff.co.nz