Fatal drownings in New Zealand are up 37 per cent in the last five years, with 50 per cent occurring over summer.
Six people have already drowned in New Zealand in 2021.
This dramatic increase is being attributed to more people in and around our water.
"I don't think we're getting worse," Chris Emmett, SLSNZ's National Club and Volunteer Development Manager said.
"I think there's opportunities there for people to access water more with more types of craft and toys. If you look at that 37 per cent increase you find most of it comes from using craft.
"A stand-up paddle board is really easy to access the beach and coastal environments. They're easy to pick up and then you've got kayaks being more prevalent, things are getting cheaper.
"You've got this new foiling generation coming in so you're getting innovation within the water sports area and that's getting more people out there which is great but we need to get those key safety messages in place," Emmett said.
The most alarming finding from the report is that males are fatally drowning more than females – 89 per cent male compared to 11 per cent female.
"When we looked at the figures and went through it that hit us in the head like a brick bat. It's something that no one quite predicted. It's something we knew about but not 89 per cent, that's a huge stat.
"What we play in there is that kiwi males are risk takers. They like to get out there, have fun with their mates, which is all good they just need to learn to do it safely," Emmett said.
One local swimming instructor agrees.
"They get egged on by their mates," Andrea Sinden, founder of the Tauranga Swim School said.
"They've got testosterone running around in their body, they think they're invincible and can do anything and try anything. So they take risks and often those risks aren't measured and so they end up getting themselves into trouble.
"I think that they are susceptible to those things at a younger age and they grow up and become more sensible when they're in their 30s but we also need to look at the guys that go out on boats and go fishing and take their six-pack and go drinking.
"It's those men as well that are doing the water sports that are being quite careless and taking risks."
In an attempt to get the message though, a new interactive word game challenging users to find hidden safety messages has been released. It's available in both English and Te Reo Māori.
"Why it's in Māori? Because they use the water a lot more," Emmett said.
"They gather kai in water, do a lot of activities around the water and a lot of them are coastal based. They're one of the prevalent users we got in the country so it's really important for us to look at diversity and inclusivity and Māori are a really important part of getting the message across."
"Unfortunately we're not doing enough to support Māori and Pacific Islanders," Sinden said.
"They rely on their whānau to teach them to swim and their whanāu often don't know how to swim."
If there was a silver bullet that could reduce drownings, Sinden says it would be teaching swimming in schools.
"It would be getting into all of the schools in New Zealand. Not just some primary schools, it would be getting into the colleges as well and teaching a practical water safety programme."
While the busy Christmas holiday period may have ended, Emmett says there's still plenty of summer left for the lifeguards to patrol.
"You will get a lot of holiday makers that have left their holidays until after Christmas, they might have a business or something. They'll go later in January and early February before the schools go back.
"When you get into February and March what happens is people tend to come down after work or after school. We're really geared up to look after that and we have professional patrols on right through to mid-March."
And the main message is the same as always.
"Swim between the flags or at a patrolled beach," Emmett said.
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