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Unique pop-up pool program teaches school children how to swim

Unique pop-up pool program teaches school children how to swim
November 14, 2014

As part of a unique program taking pools to New Zealand’s schools, Waterco Ltd is playing a vital role with the provision of its new Hydroxypure chlorine-free sanitisation system and other pool equipment. 

Run by the Adam Brown Water Safety Trust, the Pools iN SchoolZ programme aims to ensure lower-decile school children aren’t prevented from learning water safety and swimming skills by the lack of access to swimming pools. 

The program is the brainchild of Dr Ian Calhaem, a former member of the Watersafe advisory board and is based on the simple question - “if it is impractical to take the kids to a pool, why not take a pool to the kids?”

And that’s exactly what he’s done, with Pools iN Schoolz involving taking portable pools into schools to teach children how to swim. Today PoolZ iN SchoolZ provides covered and heated 10 metre portable pools free of charge to schools around New Zealand (each pool rotates between four schools in a year). It also funds water safety education.

At each pool, Waterco has provided a Hydroxypure sanitisation system, MultiCyclone centrifugal filtration device, two S702 fibreglass filters, a Waterco Supatuf 250 pump and an Electroheat heat pump.

When Dr Calhaem contacted Waterco to ask if it would like to be involved in the program, there was no hesitation in accepting.

Waterco Ltd New Zealand Manager Mike Alexander explains “we thought it was a brilliant idea, and we now provide equipment for all 16 pools which travel around the country.
“Each pool in the Pools iN SchoolZ program is used by up to 200 students a day, so it’s crucial to have quality, dependable pumps, filters, heat pumps and sanitation to maximise the opportunity for these kids to become proficient around water.

“The reaction to and interest in the Hydroxypure sanitation system has been remarkable, as it creates a truly chlorine-free swimming pool that is ideal for anyone with respiratory problems or skin allergies like asthma or eczema – conditions that are exacerbated by exposure to pool chlorine. This was especially important with the increasing number of children who have a reaction to chlorine.”

Water safety and awareness
Named after trustee David Brown’s oldest son Adam, who died in a freak jetski accident in 2003, the pop-up pool initiative started in 2011 and is designed to circumnavigate the decreasing number of schools able to afford the upkeep of an onsite swimming pool and the cost of taking kids to community pools. Pools iN SchoolZ’ mission is to ensure that the lack of access to a swimming pool doesn’t hinder primary schools from teaching water safety. 

As Brown explains, more than 40% of children in primary schools do not have access to a pool. 

Brown states “it’s all about water safety and also just getting kids to be aware of how to swim.”

Dr Calhaem conceived the idea of taking portable pools to primary schools in late 2009. He designed, funded and built a pilot unit that was successfully trialled by WaterSafe Auckland, proving that portable pools are practical and cost effective.

Vital need for program
Only a fifth of 12-year-olds in New Zealand can swim 200 metre, the minimum survival standard set by Water Safety New Zealand. About a quarter of all primary school students are unable to swim 25 metres, tread water or keep afloat.

New Zealand’s annual drowning toll is one of the worst in the developed world, with Kiwi children less able to swim than a generation ago. In the five years between 2008 and 2012, an average of 100 people died from drowning in New Zealand waters each year.

Tellingly, 42% of schools do not have a pool and nearly 20% of school pools have closed in the last decade.

Alexander concludes “we are happy to be involved with such a worthy cause as Pools iN SchoolZ.

“Anything that can help reduce the tragic number of kids drowning each year is to be lauded. This type of education really can save lives.”

For more information on the Pools iN SchoolZ programme go to

Click here to view the Waterco Ltd entry in the Australasian Leisure Management Supplier Directory. 




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