A new swim club has been launched in Whanganui aiming to stem the flow of young teens leaving the sport.

John Hay, who has no specific background in swimming, is the main driver of the newly-formed River City Swim Club operating out of the Splash Centre five days a week.

He, and a few other parents with children keen on swimming, have gathered to hire a lane at the Splash centre between 6am and 7.30am, Monday to Friday for swimmers to train.
The first training session was held on Monday.

"Whanganui used to have three or four competitive swim clubs operating here, but today only one exists," Hay said.


"It's healthy for a town our size to have options.The new club will not compete with services being provided by the Splash Centre, or the existing club.

"Its focus will be providing teenage swimmers in particular with a venue and an alternative. We are hoping to receive approval this week to base the program around one established by an Olympic swimmer now coaching in Australia.

"The club will also be involved in the Ocean Swim Series with two swimmers heading to the 3km Tahunanui Beach event in Nelson on March 31," Hay said.

The two are Hay's own children Andrew (13) and Charlotte (11).

Like most sports, Hay said swimming struggled to retain children in the sport once they reached teenage years.

"And the problem with one swim club towns the size of Whanganui is that if for any reason a swimmer doesn't like the culture, programme, or coach there is nothing they can do but leave the club and be lost to the sport."

He said he was not taking a swipe at the Toyota Whanganui Swim Club, nor its performance, but simply noting teenagers especially needed choice and a fun environment to flourish.

"It's got to be fun," Hay said.

"Most serious competitive swimmers spend between 15 to 20 hours a week in the pool and cover distances of between 1500km to 2000km a year, it's a big commitment.

"We are hoping to be able to play a small part in reversing the trend of teenagers leaving the sport by combining solid training sessions with lots of fun and positivity. The club has placed advertisements for a person to supervise the programme."

Hay said the new club was also focused on reducing the cost of training and competing at national and regional tournaments.