Learning just the start says swim teacher of 65 years
By Victoria White
With more than 65 years experience, retired swim coach John Beaumont insists “learning to swim is only the start of water safety”.
“Kids might be quite capable in the sedate water of a pool, but it’s totally different in a wild environment. It’s a completely different ball game.”
Educating young swimmers was the best way to prevent getting into trouble, and knowing how to get out of it.
“Being a competent swimmer certainly helps, but there are a lot of other skills that need to be learnt.”
Mr Beaumont said swim education should start as early as possible – for some this could begin as young as two such as those taught in Mr Beaumont’s baby swim classes, the ﬁrst in Hawke’s Bay.
Toddlers instinctively rolled on to their front in the water but they were taught to roll on to their back. For anyone older in trouble in the water, doing the same could double, or even triple their chance of survival.
From his years of experience, Mr Beaumont said his most important advice was that parents needed to keep their eyes on their children all the time.
Teaching children to swim safety was important, but it was equally important that parents were competent swimmers who would be able to help if their child got into trouble.
“[Children] need supervision. . . parents need to be aware there is a danger there all the time and they need to be relatively capable.”
A fear of water could be overcome by education, and proper teaching, Mr Beaumont said. This could mean learning about new beaches people wanted to visit, and exploring them before getting into the water. “They need to be see if there are any rips or dangerous places . . . and they need to be able to identify those.”
Mr Beaumont opened New Zealand’s first indoor heated swimming pool in 1968 in Havelock North. He’s coached rugby players, New Zealand swim teams, and generations of Hawke’s Bay residents. “We’re proud to have supplied them, thousands have been through.”
Photo caption – SWIM: Retired swim coach John Beaumont taught kids to swim for more than 65 years, and ran New Zealand’s first indoor heated pool for 40 years.