A new era of surf lifesaving in Napier could be in the making as a result of a $6800 grant to help a new children's training programme.
The Pacific Surf Lifesaving Club will use the Eastern and Central Community Trust funding mainly for new equipment for the City Nippers programme being launched next month.
The two-hour sessions will be held at the Hardinge Rd Beach in Ahuriri each Sunday from November 11, starting at 10am and can cater for up to 60 children.
Recruitment will target those aged 10-13 who can swim 50m.
It is the first time the club has planned a major campaign to attract youngsters to the sport.
The community trust says the timing of the campaign is excellent, following the success of many New Zealand competitors at the Olympics who started their sporting careers in lifesaving, including sprint canoeist Lisa Carrington who started surf lifesaving when she was just 10 years old.
Recruits will learn water skills and confidence in swimming and knee boarding through waves, with the club hoping to capture the children's enthusiasm for future participation in surf lifesaving.
"The problem is that many children can't swim 50m," says the club fundraising co-ordinator Anne Cooper.
"Our challenge is to recruit those who are confident swimmers but many children don't learn at school so it is often only those who have had private lessons who are able to swim 50m," she says.
The goal is to recruit between 60 and 80 students and by developing a strong junior membership, the club, based on the beach just north of the War Memorial Conference Centre on Napier's Marine Parade, hopes to be able to consistently replenish its pool of qualified lifeguards, many of whom leave Hawke's Bay to pursue education and career opportunities.
The club is in a rebuilding phase and provides professional surf patrol for Napier residents and visitors to ensure safe swimming.
An enrolment per child or family applies to the programme, which is also supported by Sport Hawke's Bay and KiwiSport, Ocean Spa, and Surf Lifesaving New Zealand.