Bree McCowatt and her family came up with a super charged idea to raise money for the 5th World Deaf Swimming Championships.

Instead of asking for money, they offered to take away people's unwanted batteries and sell them for scrap metal.

''Because we live in a small rural town we decided to not just ask for money but give back to the community as well,'' the Ngātea swimmer says.

''We did this by putting out flyers to everyone in the surrounding areas asking for car, motorbike, truck, boat or any vehicle batteries. We found that many local farmers and people had a few batteries and so we went and picked them up before selling to a scrap metal company.''


A truckload of batteries were collected — 7913kg.

The Waihi Beach lifeguard was raising money for a week-long trip in Sao Paulo, Brazil attending the 5th World Deaf Swimming Championships in late August.

The fundraising helped to pay for flights, accommodation, entry and race fee as well as training and equipment costs. Sponsors helped as well.

Bree, 15, was the Waihi Beach junior lifeguard of the year and Coromandel under-19 lifeguard for the 2018/2019 season.

She was the only North Islander to participate in the international competition in Brazil.
Bree was born deaf. One of difficulties in attending such an event is interpretation.

''Interpreting everyone was hard because none of us New Zealanders spoke another language or knew sign language — it meant that we had to find other people to help or we had to kind of guess what was being said. For example, when we went to the technical meeting there was someone speaking international sign language and then there were multiple people translating this international sign language into all of the countries sign languages and then people translating their own countries sign language into their language!

''This was a challenge because it meant that we didn't always know what was going on.''

Another challenge was swimming in a 3m deep, 50m long pool (she is used to 25m length and 1-1.5m depth) as well as swimming anticlockwise at warm up.


Bree participated in a number of events and felt her 1500m race was the best race where she placed sixth.

Participating at the worlds has been the biggest accomplishment of her swim career to far. She knows what to expect at an international event from here on, she says, and won't be nervous.

''It has improved my skills because I got chatting to other coaches and they gave me some tips on how to improve my stroke and by watching swimmers from other countries I got to see how different each country teaches their swimmers to swim.''

After the event, the family travelled to Rio De Janeiro for a week and saw tourist attractions such as the Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf mountain. There was no chance to train so she went swimming with local lifeguards in the sea. They also visited Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Bree has no clue about a future career as yet but is hoping that it is something to do with the water, ocean or the outdoors.

''My ultimate goal with swimming is to just keep having fun and enjoying myself while doing something I love and then hopefully keep going to more national as well as international competitions and win a medal one day.''

Bree's event line-up - 5th World Deaf Swimming Championships
400m Freestyle - (placed 9th-first reserve for the final) and a 9-second personal best.
50m Butterfly
50m Freestyle - 1 second personal best
200m Individual Medley - (placed 11th) and an 8-second personal best
1500m Freestyle - (placed 6th) and a 1 minute, 8-second personal best
200m Freestyle - a 2 second personal best
800m Freestyle - (placed 7th)
100m Freestyle - a 2 second personal best