In statistics released this week, Water Safety New Zealand reported 90 fatal drownings in 2014 compared with 107 in 2013. The organisation is pleased to see the numbers coming down but is still aiming for zero.
Water Safety New Zealand CEO Matt Claridge says New Zealanders love the water — whether playing or surfing in it, boating or sailing on it, or simply enjoying our stunning coastline, beaches, lakes and rivers.
“Sadly, every year, a large number of Kiwis lose their lives to drowning. New Zealand has the third highest rate of drownings in the developed world.
Water Safety New Zealand urges people to make water safety a priority for themselves and their families. Their top recommendations are learning to swim, wear and use the right safety equipment, learn survival skills and most importantly keep loved ones, especially young children, close whenever playing near water.
Learn to swim programmes such as SwimKāpiti and the Sealord Swim for Life nationwide initiative play a crucial role in ensuring young New Zealanders learn vital swim and survival skills, Matt Claridge says.
“We’re a nation surrounded by water – Kāpiti especially — and we want all New Zealanders to be able to enjoy the recreational opportunities this offers but in a safe way. Learning swim and survival skills is an important part of being able to keep safe in, on and around the water.”
Council operates a range of learn to swim programmes at its pools. Aquatic Facilities Customer Relations Manager Brent Harvey says bookings are now open for Learn to Swim and SwimBegin holiday lessons. Term One lessons at Coastlands Aquatic Centre and Ōtaki Pool run from 26 January to 28 March 2015 and at Waikanae Pool from 26 January to 21 March 2015.
“Swimming lessons at Coastlands Aquatic Centre are held in the purpose built PAK’nSAVE Programmes Pool” he says. “The water temperature of 32°c, plus the pool’s ranging depth, provides the perfect environment to learn to swim. More advanced lessons are in the main pool.”
At Waikanae and Ōtaki pools, which are also heated, younger children have their lessons in the toddlers’ pool. Older children are taught in the main pools, where platforms can be used.