YMCA Auckland swim teacher Liam Blain-Caunce has received national recognition for his contributions to aquatic education and water safety by taking out the 2017 AUSTSWIM Aotearoa Teacher of Infant and Preschool Aquatics Award on 15 July.

Liam, a teacher at Onehunga War Memorial Pools and Cameron Pools in Mt Roskill, is the third YMCA Auckland swim teacher to take out the national award in as many years.

YMCA Auckland Swim School Quality Services Manager Karla McCaughan says the recognition is testament to Liam and YMCA Auckland’s commitment to providing a fun and safe learn to swim environment for early learners.

“Drowning is the fourth highest cause of accidental death in New Zealand. Last year three children aged under 5 drowned – three too many.

“It’s a particularly tragic statistic given basic water safety and swimming skills can dramatically reduce a child’s risk of drowning.”

Liam’s swimming and water safety lessons have had a huge impact on a number of lives, says Karla, and over his three years at YMCA Auckland Liam has empowered hundreds of Kiwi kids with vital water safety skills.

“Liam was commended at the awards ceremony for his ability to engage young children through the use of active water play and enthusiastic water safety presentations at local kindergartens and pre-schools.

“We congratulate Liam on his achievement and are thrilled to see his skills and dedication to his teaching have been recognised at the highest level,” Karla said.

Improving access to water safety skills and swimming lessons

Karla says one of the biggest barriers to parents enrolling infants or pre-schoolers in swimming lessons is the perception that it's not worthwhile until a child is older and shows an interest in taking up swimming as a social activity or sport.

“We often forget that water safety and basic swimming skills are for everyone, regardless of whether they have an interest in swimming.

“In the same way we teach our children to not touch hot objects, we should be teaching kids to avoid water if there’s no adult around, or empowering them with life-long skills they can use should they get into trouble in the water.”

To extend access to infant and preschool swimming lessons, YMCA Auckland has partnered with Plunket to offer half-price swimming lessons to Plunket clients with children aged 3 months to 5 years.

The lessons are available Mondays to Fridays between 9am and 3pm at four YMCA managed aquatic centres: Onehunga War Memorial Pool, Lagoon Pool and Leisure Centre (Panmure), Glen Innes Pool and Leisure Centre and Cameron Pool and Leisure Centre (Mt Roskill).

AUSTSWIM Aotearoa award finalists
YMCA Auckland facilities and staff were also finalists in four other AUSTSWIM Aotearoa award categories: