Portable pools make a splash with Christchurch kids

18 October 2013

Summer arrived early for hundreds of schoolchildren this week, as the ActivePost portable swimming pool officially opened at Beckenham and Burwood primary schools. Set up by staff from New Zealand Post and Water Safety New Zealand, the arrival of the pools means that both schools can offer swimming lessons to their students on the school grounds.

Students who are using one of the new portable swimming pool. For students at Beckenham, whose swimming pool was destroyed during the 2011 earthquake, the portable pool meant the school could restart its swimming lessons at the school. Principal Sandy Hastings said the schools’ 475 students were eagerly awaiting the chance to be first to jump in the new pool.

“Losing our pool in the earthquake was a devastating loss to our school aquatics programme and our wider community who used the pool constantly when it was open.

“The ActivePost portable pool gives us a temporary solution to this problem. It means we can offer swimming lessons again while the community works to bring a permanent pool back to Beckenham."

Launched in late 2011, the ActivePost portable pools typically stay at a school for two terms. The entire assembly and operation of the pools is provided free of charge and is delivered through Water Safety NZ’s Kia Māanu, Kia Ora (Stay Afloat, Stay Alive) campaign.

Measuring 10x5 metres, and holding 50,000 litres of water, the pools cater for up to 15 students at a time. Detachable marquees mean they can be used rain or shine and the heated water provides the perfect environment for teaching swimming skills.

Nicola Airey, ActivePost spokesperson, said that the ActivePost portable swimming pool provided a practical answer for schools that don’t have a swimming pool.

“It’s no secret that the most effective way of teaching kids new skills is to let them a have a go. The same goes with swimming; kids can only develop their confidence by being in the water. The portable pools provide a free and safe option for schools to offer their students regular access to swimming pools.”

Water Safety New Zealand CEO, Matt Claridge, said that providing the earthquake affected schools with the ActivePost pool has been a collaborative effort.

“Significant support from New Zealand Post (through ActivePost) and the Earthquake Appeal Trust, as well as Sport Canterbury’s generous donation of the pool to Water Safety New Zealand have enabled this initiative to happen. And we’re delighted that these deserving kids will be back in the water and learning swim and survival skills as the city’s recovery continues.”

In total, there are four ActivePost portable pools in operation. To date the pools have been used in ten schools in the Waikato, East Cape and Canterbury Regions, where more than 820 students have learnt to swim. Water Safety NZ works with the schools to provide basic floatation training and help students develop their skills so that they can swim independently and confidently.

The two remaining pools are located at Matakana School (Matakana Island, Bay of Plenty) and at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kawakawa Mai Tawhiti (Hicks Bay, East Cape.)

Students in a swimming class.