No one would argue that swimming lessons are absolutely vital for Kiwi kids.

We're an island nation surrounded by water, with more than our fair share of lakes and rivers.

So much of the stereotypical Kiwi way of life, in particular the "great Kiwi summer", involves being in, on or beside the water.

As a non-confident swimmer, I have this summer enviously watched children fearlessly throwing themselves into waves and diving into lakes without a care in the world.


That confidence is great but parents and educators also have a responsibility to ensure children are taught to have a healthy respect for the dangers. That conditions can change, that the ocean in particular can be ruthless.

Ideally every New Zealand child would have regular free swimming lessons in their school pool - as we did in our day.

But these days not every school has a pool - so it's great that many parents are using the school holidays to help their kids improve their water skills and confidence (page 2).

Water safety has been in the spotlight recently with a number of drownings.

What baffles me is that often those who drown, and those rescued after near-misses, are described as inexperienced or non-swimmers.

So why then, do they venture into water they are not confident in? It seems all too often people are quite literally getting in over their heads, a depth I would never venture into without a life jacket - no matter how much ribbing that earns me.

In an ideal world we'd all be expert swimmers and by all means, let's strive to make that a reality. Until then staying safe in the water has to start with everyone knowing their limitations. Simple really.