Rotorua youth will be able to feel more confident when braving the elements of open water swimming thanks to a free programme.
The Kauria Te Moana programme aims to help young people to learn open water safety skills which they will put into practice at the Banana Boat OceanKids event at Tikitapu (Blue Lake) next month.
Last year the event was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions,.
Kauria Te Moana is free and for 7-to-10-year-old Rotorua children who successfully apply.
The programme has exciting new content for 2021, and will teach 100 local children open water swimming and safety skills at a pool clinic at the newly renovated Rotorua Aquatic Centre, and an open water clinic at Lake Okareka on March 13.
The kids will then be able to put those skills to good use at the Banana Boat OceanKids event at Tikitapu (Blue Lake) on March 20.
This event is part of the Legend of the Lake, run by Quantum Events and part of the NZ Ocean Swim Series.
All children accepted to the programme will receive a free T-shirt, Pita Pit lunch, and swim cap , along with a free entry to the Banana Boat OceanKids 100m or 200m swim.
Quantum Events owner Scott Rice says it is nice to be making a difference locally with youth around water safety in open water.
"It's dedicated to Rotorua children and getting them more confident and educated around being safe in open water. It's nice for us to give back and be involved in this.
"Hopefully the more Rotorua children that are confident, the more that will be able to enjoy the water and perhaps take part in one of our swims at some point."
He says children who apply need to be confident in swimming more than about 100m, as it is not a learn-to-swim programme but learning to be safe in open water.
Jason Cameron, Rotorua Lakes Council events attraction and development manager for sport and recreation, says this year the programme has also been collaborating with Professor Chris Button.
Chris is head of physical education at the University of Otago and has helped develop some new water safety skill activities to implement into the programme.
"It really focuses on water safety for children, and we know fatality statistics over the summer have been quite high, so we are trying to prevent that in the future and educate our tamariki out in the elements."
A guest speaker from local iwi will also give a kōrero at the training on March 13 about the significance of the lakes involved in the initiative.
To apply, children need to register their details at www.registernow.io/KauriaTeMoana or complete a physical application at the Rotorua Aquatic Centre by 5pm March 2. There are limited spaces.