The impact of community pools on safety, health and wellbeing should not be underestimated, teachers say.
Pupils at Lawrence Area School (LAS) have been in record-breaking swimming form recently, and their teachers say it is down to a community-wide effort to rebuild the district’s pool seven years ago.
Because of the far-flung nature of many parts of Clutha, having a local facility on hand made the outright difference between swimming and not swimming for some children, Teacher Casey Young said.
‘‘Because we have this amazing facility on hand, the majority of our children get regular swimming practice, with all the benefits to health, wellbeing and water safety that allows.
‘‘When you have to travel to the nearest centre simply to get in the water, that can be a major obstacle to even learning to swim properly in the first place.’’
The community also ran a swimming club on Mondays, the additional benefits of which were in evidence during recent swim champs, Mrs Casey said.
‘‘Despite only having a small group of 13 at the South Otago Schools meet at Balclutha last month, we came out top school out of the 15 there. We even broke a record.
‘‘That’s largely a result of having easy access to training for our swimmers.’’
The $2.3 million project was first mooted in 2009 and relied on substantial community support to reach the finish line.
Construction began at the end of 2014, but delays meant the opening was pushed back until March 2016.
The facility has a toddlers’ pool, learners’ pool, 25m, six-lane lap pool, and a gym.
Fellow LAS teacher Clare Blackmore said the school now had some ‘‘amazing’’ swimmers.
‘‘All children are water confident and we have many 5-year-olds swimming freestyle confidently. Many of our swimmers have gone on to break records in the pool and the surf, and some also compete in junior nationals.
‘‘All of this is thanks to the vision and generosity of this community.’’