The Kiwi Swim Safe School helps teachers and their students with swimming, water safety, survival and beach safety skills. Sarah Gibbison, the Wellington-based Education Advisor for Swimming NZ recently visited Makara Model School to see how they were getting on.

Wellington Community Trust has supported the programme regularly and recently gave a grant of $15,000 to Swimming NZ to help schools in the Wellington region take part in the programme.

Success at Makara Model School

Sarah comments, ‘Makara Model School have been a Kiwi Swim Safe School for just over 3 years and they would be one of the most passionate schools I have had the pleasure of working with. I was blown away by their knowledge and willingness to give things a go.’

The students swim every day over term 1 and also term 4 (weather permitting) and have extra lessons when time allows. They each have a ‘swimming buddy’ so they can work together to reach their goals and they also keep a portfolio of their experiences and achievements.

Sarah notes, ‘Supporting their peers is a very much a part of the school culture. It was fantastic to see that what we are doing is making a substantial difference to the children and their whānau.’

Confidence and fun

One of the aims of the programme is to make children confident swimmers not only in the school pool, but also at the beach. At the end of the swimming season the senior students went snorkelling at Taputeranga Marine Reserve (also funded by the Wellington Community Trust). Ben Potter wrote in his portfolio, ‘My favourite creature I saw was the eagle ray. We saw it coming when we were coming out of the water. I knew it couldn’t sting when I saw its tail didn’t have any barb on it … it was amazing. … I had lots of fun at Island Bay.’

Sarah concludes, ‘Isn’t it fantastic to see the students developing in confidence and in turn enjoying other water environments?’ We couldn’t agree more.

The students recorded their experiences of snorkelling in words and pictures on the ‘snorkelling board’.

The students recorded their experiences of snorkelling in words and pictures on the ‘snorkelling board’.