JC Swimming School instructor Kurt Crosland teaches
Andersons Bay School pupils (from bottom) Cameron Jefferies
(10), Laura Nelson (9) and Hannah McKenzie (9). Photo by
Sport Otago hopes to expand its learn-to-swim primary
school programme to Central Otago and Queenstown, in a bid to
target areas of the region which account for almost half of
The skills for swimming programme provides 2800 Dunedin
primary pupils with partial funding for swimming lessons.
Sport Otago contributes $30 per pupil towards lessons.
The programme started in 2009, funded by the Dunedin City
Council, Water Safety NZ, Kiwi Sport and the Otago Community
Parents also meet some of the cost - up to $40 - depending
how much the school contributes and if pupils needed
transport to a pool.
Children at lower decile schools between 1 and 3, received
Sport Otago funding for 10 swimming lessons each year as soon
as they started school. At higher decile schools pupils
received funding for lessons in years 5 and 6.
"Some children from lower income families cannot afford to be
a part of swim schools, so that is why we provide them with
extra lessons," Sport Otago skills for swimming co-ordinator
Brent Ward said.
For parents at higher decile schools hoping to start their
child earlier than year 5, the cost for 10 lessons at Moana
Pool was $110.
Dunedin Methodist Mission community and social services
manager Sue Foster said for parents on low incomes this was
out of reach.
"Most of our clients are more worried about having enough
food in the cupboard, than paying for swimming lessons," she
Some higher decile schools, such as Anderson's Bay School,
provided partly-funded lessons for every year level.
Principal Hamish McDonald said parents pay $36 each year to
ensure their child gets swimming lessons all the way through
However, pupil's in regional Otago did not have the access to
Sport Otago's partly funded swimming programmes.
Mr Ward said that was something Sport Otago was focused on
It was now running a trial programme in Oamaru, with plans to
expand to Central Otago and Queenstown, Wanaka, where 47% of
the region's drownings occurred.
Last year, 131 people drowned in New Zealand, 6 of those in
Cost of 10 swim lessons
• Hamilton: $135
• Wellington: $117.90
• Auckland: $113
• Dunedin: $110
• Christchurch: $110
• Taranaki: $95
• Invercargill: $91.50
- Cameron Carpenter