International students given chance to learn to swim

11 January 2022

International students given chance to learn to swim

This summer Study Northland and NorthTec’s international department collaborated to provide eight international students with four free swimming lessons at the Whangarei Aquatic Centre with the SwimMagic Swim School.

As temperatures rise many people living in New Zealand head to the beach to cool off and enjoy their summer holidays. However, not everyone finds this the enjoyable experience it should be.

“About two-thirds of international students coming to NorthTec have limited swimming ability and often lack confidence and safety skills whilst in and around water,” says Adrian Whale, NorthTec International’s Pastoral Care Coordinator. “We often take our international students on beach trips and other outdoor activities. We’ve had a few close incidents that made us realise we need to make sure they can keep themselves safe if they are really going to make the most of their time here in the North.”

The aim of the initiative was to pilot an adult swimming programme to teach new swimmers to have fun in the water while staying safe.

“Our beautiful coastlines and relaxed outdoor lifestyle are high on the list of reasons to choose Northland as a study abroad destination,” says Jo Lees, Project Manager, Study Northland (Northland Inc). “Having more water confidence and swimming ability means that international students coming here at high school or tertiary level can fully embrace all the Northland experiences on offer.”

“Swimming is a life skill that helps us get the most out of the great Northland summer, safely,” says Whangārei Aquatic Centre swim instructor Ty Mirko. “New Zealander’s take going to beaches and swimming for granted but some of these new students had not even put their face under the water before. First, it’s about building confidence. There’s been a massive amount of improvement in a short space of time with these students.”

“I couldn’t believe how much fun it could be,” said international student Shivani Thakor. “I just enjoy floating on the water. I want to learn more and more now. I have even more confidence to say yes and try new experiences. We are very thankful for these lessons.”

Jesse Yang, another of the selected students, has been putting off learning to swim for the past five years since he came to Whangarei. He was overjoyed after completing a length of the pool, jumping up, and declaring he could swim! Now he says he has no reason to avoid going on beach trips and the other activities organised for international students. He too would like to continue taking swimming lessons next year.

“It takes real courage to learn to swim as an adult,” says Adrian. “I’m very proud of what our students accomplished and look forward to extending the program for next year. It would be great to get our domestic students who also lack swimming skills in on the initiative and create an environment where the students can learn together.”

Study Northland and NorthTec will look to continue the programme in 2022 and hope to include a beach safety day and a snorkelling experience.

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