The importance of swimming lessons for rural kids

All water can be dangerous, however, children growing up in rural communities are often exposed to additional risks. These kids have access to some of the country’s most beautiful places to swim, including rivers, lakes and creeks. However, accidents are always a real danger. Without water safety education and adult supervision, children swimming in remote locations are at a greater risk of drowning.

SwimMagic Coordinator Santana Tapara knows all too well the dangers of swimming in isolated places. Growing up in the small Waikato town of Otorohanga where she taught herself to swim, Santana loved going to the local swimming hole with her brothers and sisters. As a child Santana didn’t take swimming lessons and wasn’t aware of the dangers around water.

An incident when she was 11 however, changed everything. Within seconds, a current pulled Santana under the water and dragged her more than 200 metres away from the group. Her older brother saved her but the memory of that experience has never left her. “I was scared of swimming for a while after that. It took me a few years to go back to rivers and swimming holes,” she says.

Santana regained her confidence eventually but has never seen water in the same way again. “I’ve struggled, even as an adult, to enjoy swimming.” Now as a swim school coordinator, Santana has a key role in helping children progress in their swimming. She sees firsthand the value of swimming lessons, especially to small town kids, who face more risks compared to those from suburban areas.


Five reasons rural kids need swimming lessons

They’ll learn how to spot risks

Swimming lessons aren’t just about learning to swim, they also teach children how to stay safe in and around water — vital skills for every Kiwi kid. As part of this, children learn how to check for hazards and hidden dangers in the area, such as trees or currents.

Entering and exiting the water safely

Children learn the best way to get into and out of any waterway to prevent an accident.

Gain essential life-saving skills

Staying calm and keeping yourself above the water is essential in a stressful situation. Children will learn how to relax and stay afloat even in an

Learn to swim

Children will start to learn the foundation skills for swimming, including floating, kicking, strokes, body position and breathing.

Grow confidence

Swimming is fun! As children explore the water and develop their swimming skills their confidence will soar, setting them up for a lifetime of enjoyment in the water.


Keep rural kids safe

Santana loves watching children’s confidence grow as they connect with the water, and she hopes to continue to develop her own confidence as a swimmer. She encourages all rural families to try swimming lessons to further their skills and keep children safe while enjoying the great outdoors as “their safety is in our hands”.


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