• 1 Feb 2013
  • East and Bays Courier

Starting school with a splash

Pupils at Tamaki Primary School will strengthen their swimming skills this summer, thanks to a temporary swimming pool.

A 10-metre-long portable pool was set up at the school on January 24.

It will be ready to use by the time pupils return on Monday and will stay at the school for the term.

Principal Corinne Hansell says it is the second year the school has had the pool and she’s seeing the benefits.

‘‘We have had children who can’t even let go of the side of the pool at the start even though they could touch the ground. It was foreign to them. We’ve seen them grow so much.’’

Tamaki Primary was built with a pool but upkeep costs were too high and it sat empty for many years before being removed in 2008.

Ms Hansell has worked in education for more than 40 years and says the pop-up pool programme is something special.

‘‘This is the best initiative to improve the skills of kids in the water that I have ever seen. Our community is so fortunate.’’

The pool was provided by the Adam Brown Water Safety Trust and funded by the Mt Wellington Foundation.

The Adam Brown Water Safety Trust runs the Pools in Schoolz programme which aims to ensure lower-decile primary school children learn to swim.

It is named after trustee David Brown’s oldest son Adam, who died in a jetski accident in 2003. Mr Brown says more than 40 per cent of children in primary schools do not have access to a pool.

‘‘It’s all about water safety and also just getting kids to be aware of how to swim.’’

Mt Wellington Foundation manager Parker Joyce says portable pools are the best way to teach the basics.

‘‘It’s actually got all the benefits by making swimming more affordable and easier. With the loss-of-life statistics around we have got to get everyone learning how to swim.’’

The pool is one of two heated pools in the programme which rotate between schools in Mt Wellington, Panmure and Glen Innes each year. The initiative started in 2011 with Sport Auckland funding a lesson programme to go with the portable pools in local schools. Each school gets 10 swimming lessons from Panmure Lagoon Leisure and Fitness Centre instructors and the rest of the lessons are taught by school staff.

Sport Auckland’s school sport manager Shaun Campbell says the portable pools will be available to schools for the foreseeable future.

‘‘It just gives kids more opportunities to swim in general. That is so important,’’ he says.

A few pupils were on hand to help set up the pool on January 24.

‘‘I’m excited because if its hot we can just jump in and swim,’’ Wiremu Liddicoat, 10, says.