Swim programme makes progress
Philip Waggott has to admit that when he started at Cannons Creek Pool, the learn to swim programme had a way to go.
For the past two years he made it his goal to see the pool used to teach people how to swim.
‘‘It has been about improving the programme and finding where we fit into the community,’’ Waggott said.
As assistant manager for Dash Swim School, Waggott believes the learn to swim and water safety programmes at Cannons Creek were unique in this country.
‘‘First we teach children how to survive, then we teach them how to swim.’’
New Zealand is said to have one of the highest drowning rates in the world, and about 80 per cent of the country’s 14-year-olds cannot swim.
His priority was to teach children vital skills in the water that could one day save their lives.
‘‘The programme is a fantastic product and our team are all qualified instructors. It’s a benefit to the community having something like this.’’
There are programmes for children aged from four months to three years, another for preschoolers, and one specifically for schoolchildren over five.
‘‘Water safety has become a lot more important over the years, and it’s what the parents want.’’
Dash Swim School holds two water safety weeks during the year. They introduce children to the risks associated with being around water.
Though it is a fun and safetyconscious activity, Waggott said it was about introducing panic in a controlled environment and teaching children what to do if they found themselves in danger.
One of the features unique to the water safety week is the currents created with high pressure hoses, to show children what it is like to be caught in a rip.
‘‘It’s like a real-life situation that they learn to deal with,’’ he said.
Last year the school grew by 100 participants and Waggott wants that trend to continue.
Along with making sure more children can swim, Waggott has been given a chance to discuss the city council’s approach to water safety with a national water safety board.
A $ 585,000 upgrade gave Cannons Creek Pool a new lease on life earlier this year.
It included refurbished changing rooms, new windows and frames, freshly repaired tiles and a new roof.
Philip Waggott believes the learn to swim and water safety programmes at Cannons Creek are unique in New Zealand.