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Swimmers celebrate 100 years with a splash

Sep 8th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

WELLINGTON Mayor Kerry Prendergast recalls learning to swim last year for an ocean series race – and wishes she’d learnt as a child.

“I am awe of coaches who teach our young people to swim,” says Ms Prendergast, who attended the Hataitai Amateur Swimming Club’s centennial celebration.

“We have so much water around our coast line and we lose quite large number of people every year to drowning, so anything volunteers do to reduce that number is great,” she says.

The celebration at Newtown Park was attended by about 150 past and present members, who celebrated the club’s founding in 1908, when it was called the Hataitai Bathing Club. It was based at Hataitai Beach until 1969.

One who attended was Lesley Parkin, a New Zealand representative at the 1962 Empire Games. A past member for 25 years (1954-75), she taught students at Hataitai Beach when they paid 5 shillings to attend lessons.

They had to wait for high tide to start classes, otherwise they had to be taught in about a foot of water.

Wayne Fisher, a volunteer for 30 years, says the club focuses on teaching basic water skills, such as freestyle and backstroke.

He loves to teach because of “the enthusiasm from the children. They all want to learn, you can see them become more confident.”

These days the club has 79 students and is based at Freyberg Pool on Oriental Parade, with classes held every Friday from 5:30pm – 7:30pm, with an annual charge of $50 each.

To mark 100 years, the club donated $1000 to Swimming Wellington to provide trophies for Wellington provincial races. It is also looking at setting up a Hataitai Amateur Swimming Club trust.

PICTURE: Club captain Ian McDonald (left), Kerry Prendergast and club president Jim Drummond at the Hataitai Amateur Swimming Club celebration.

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is a Whitireia Journalism student. She likes films, food and fashion. When she graduates she would like to work as a radio or newspaper reporter.
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