Free swimming lessons at a Whangārei community pool have proved so popular classes are full.
Tikipunga Community Trust's (TikiPride) free swim classes for children reached maximum capacity less than 24 hours after being advertised, prompting organisers to say no to more than 100 kids.
Tikipride is offering free swim lessons to 40 kids between the ages of 5 and 12 at Tikipunga High School pool on weekdays from January 17-28. Children can have a maximum of 10 half-hour sessions, which will be run by experienced swimming instructors for Community Leisure Management (CLM) from Whangārei Aquatic Centre.
The programme has been running since 2017 but this is the first time the organisers have had an influx of calls and overwhelming response.
Kathryn McKenzie from TikiPride said they had 40 registrations by 9.30am on Tuesday and she had only put the post up on Monday afternoon.
McKenzie said recent drownings in Northland this year could be one of the reasons for high demand.
Northland's first water-related incident occurred on January 4 when 4-year-old Shakib Tahir could not be revived at Kai Iwi Lakes, followed by another drowning of a 2-year-old on January 8 in Whananaki. So far this summer 31 people have died in water-related incidents across New Zealand.
McKenzie said part of the programme was to make the swimming pool available to the community.
Tikipunga High School pool used to be a community pool and by 1991, the community couldn't manage to run it anymore because it was costing them too much.
McKenzie said every summer since 2015, TikiPride had an agreement between CLM, Extended Whangārei and the Tiki High School board and raised the funds. CLM manages the pool and looks after the water quality.
"The second summer we did, we realised the kids that were using the pool didn't know how to swim very well. So, we decided to start giving swimming lessons and have been running it since 2017."
McKenzie said they would love to do more but were limited in people power and could not extend their classes this year because they didn't have enough funding.
"We are punching above our weight just to get the pool open for our community.
"That in itself is an asset because that gives Tikipunga kids a place to swim. Many of them would have difficulty getting into town, to the Aquatic Centre, or going to the beaches. Whangārei Falls is one place but the E. coli level in the water increases over summer so kids shouldn't be swimming there."
The swimming pool would be open to the public with Covid-19 protection protocols in place. Parents would be required to show their vaccination passes to enter.
McKenzie said a couple of parents opted out because of the vaccination pass requirement.
Meanwhile, this summer Study Northland and NorthTec's international department collaborated to provide eight international students with four free swimming lessons at the Aquatic Centre with the SwimMagic Swim School.
The aim was to pilot an adult swimming programme to teach new swimmers to have fun in the water while staying safe.
NorthTec International's Pastoral Care co-ordinator, Adrian Whale, said about two-thirds of international students coming to NorthTec had limited swimming ability and often lacked confidence and safety skills in and around water.