Swim school numbers dip
Anna Valk’s family friend lost their 7-year-old son in a drowning accident, something she still thinks about.
Valk’s 5-year-old Anais is enrolled in swimming lessons at
Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000, which Valk believes is crucial in a region surrounded by water.
‘‘Losing one of my children is one of the worst things that could happen, and knowing that I could stop it happening . . . I could never forgive myself,’’ she said.
Stadium 2000 hosts a swim school and primary school programmes, ‘learn to swim’ and ‘aquablast’, but numbers have dwindled, raising the eyebrows of management.
The swim school had 5503 students enrolled in the 2018-19 year, down from 5799 the year before. Numbers in the other programmes had dropped from 4256 to 3538 in that time.
Anais has lessons with her friend Mckenzie. The two stopped for a stint in 2019 and both of their parents noticed when they got back in the water they had lost some skills.
Stadium 2000 chief executive Rob Maclean said a new events coordinator would review the swim programmes to research why numbers were down.
‘‘Ultimately, the more young people and even old folks we can get familiar with the water, the better the outcome,’’ Maclean said.
The Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 annual report stated it was not clear whether this was due to ‘‘demographic factors, colder weather, a lower focus nationally on drowning risk prevention or some other factor’’.
‘‘Some of our periphery programmes are incredible, it’s the fundamental skills we introduce to school kids, like what you should do if you capsize a dinghy, or how to put a life jacket on properly,’’ Maclean said.
‘‘I think it’s a Kiwi birthright that kids sometimes miss out on.’’
He said the number of children enrolled in their programmes was still positive, but it was about getting as many Kiwi kids confident in the water as possible.
Water Safety New Zealand data showed 15 preventable fatal drownings in Marlborough and Kaiko¯ ura in the last decade, a number significantly less than the 29 for the decade prior.
Anais Valk, 5, learns to swim at Stadium 2000 in Blenheim.