WE SAY

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE -

The abil­ity to swim can be taken for granted by those who have it. In that way swim­ming is a lit­tle like the abil­ity to read and write. You can get by with­out it, but it’s go­ing to re­strict your life­style.

Of course, swim­ming abil­ity is not on a par with lit­er­acy in terms of its im­por­tance as a life skill, and its re­sults for em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

But there is cer­tainly a school of thought that swim­ming is vi­tal, and the New Zealand school cur­ricu­lum en­shrines an ex­pec­ta­tion that all stu­dents will have op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn ‘‘ba­sic aquat­ics skills by the end of year 6’’.

In a coun­try sur­rounded and criss-crossed by wa­ter, it’s hard to ar­gue other­wise.

On Tuesday, Wa­ter Safety New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Jonty Mills an­nounced that pro­vi­sional fig­ures for 2017 showed a 13 per cent in­crease in pre­ventable drown­ings on the pre­vi­ous year, 88 against 78.

Ear­lier, he sug­gested the clo­sure of school swim­ming pools - 165 na­tion­ally in the last five years - was con­tribut­ing to a de­cline in the teach­ing of ad­e­quate wa­ter skills to stu­dents.

The bot­tom line - and the heat­wave driv­ing New Zealan­ders to beaches and pools should help to em­pha­sise this - is that we need to find a way to en­sure our chil­dren are learn­ing to swim as early as pos­si­ble.

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