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Sport Northland and Water Skills for Life

Sport Northland has been a stand out in terms of the delivery of Water Skills for Life  into the region.

 The Northland WaterSafe Programme provides free Water Skills for Life education to Northland schools year 1 to 8 students,  along with support for teachers to build their competency and confidence  to extend delivery with their students.

 The programme is delivered across all of Northland - to date to 88.5% of Northland primary and intermediate schools since 1997.

 In 2019/20 Sport Northland delivered WSFL lessons to 3,446 students enrolled from 21 schools. They all received 5 WSFL lessons (co-delivered with school teachers and WaterSafe Kaiārahi) – which covers all of the WSFL skill sets.

11,598 students and 671 adults from 83 schools also received a dryland WSFL session across the region during term 4 2019 – covering only the theory section of WSFL.

134 school teachers received professional development poolside over term 3 and term 4 2019. 30 teachers received in-house workshops and attended the AUSTSWIM Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety course.

Sport Northland also coordinates two portable pools for schools without pools.

Brent Eastwood, Chief Executive of Sport Northland says through its programme they are teaching water safety fundamentals and foundation skills so that students can feel confident about experiencing other aquatic activities safely.

“This programme contributes to students developing sound knowledge, good attitudes and behaviours. The purpose of delivering the dryland sessions is to increase student confidence and competence around identifying and making good decisions about hazards in, on and around water prior to the summer break” says Mr Eastwood.

“The sessions also give school teachers the tools to draw on to help their students following on from the sessions through our online resources. This is further enforced with schools sending these valuable safety messages home through their own newsletters and websites.”

These sessions are then backed up with the practical WSFL aquatic sessions being co-delivered with schools in their own aquatic environment.

Sport Northland


Children learn these skills with Water Skills For Life

Click on each link to read about what's involved with each activity.

Water safety and awareness skills
  • Recognise an emergency for yourself or others. Know who to call for help and how
  • Know, understand and respect water safety rules, hazards and risks around the home, farm and around pools
  • Know, understand and respect water safety rules, hazards and risk in natural environments such as at the beach, offshore, river or lake.
  • Know, understand and respect water safety rules, hazards and risks for water activities such as swimming, water sports and boating
  • Know how and why t make safe decisions for yourself and others
  • Know how to recognise hypothermia and how to treat it
Getting in and out of the water
  • Get in and out of the water safely in any environment.
  • Perform this sequence with a buddy watching: check the depth of the water, check that the area is safe, jump into deep water, float on back for 1 minute to control breathing, return to edge and exit
Going under the water - Submersion
  • Get under water, open eyes and control breathing
  • Pick up an object from under the water
  • Dive from a horizontal position in the water and move underwater for a slow count to five
Floating on the water - Personal Buoyancy
  • Float, then regain feet
  • Control breathing while floating on back for at least 1 minute
  • Scull head-first and/or scull feet first for at least 3 minutes
  • Tread water for at least 3 minutes in deep water
  • Perform this sequence in deep water: correctly fit a lifejacket then tread water, scull, float or a mixture for 3 minutes while controlling breathing. Then return to edge and get out of the water
  • Perform this sequence for five minutes: signal for help while treading water, sculling, floating, or a mixture, and while controlling breathing
Rolling and turning in the water - Orientation
  • Horizontal rotation (front to back and back to front)
  • Horizontal to vertical rotation and vice versa (front or back to upright and return)
  • Vertical rotation (half rotation and full rotation) around the body’s vertical axis
What to do in an emergency - Safety of self and others
  • Float and signal for help with and without a flotation aid
  • Do a reach rescue and a throw rescue with a buddy
  • Perform this sequence: correctly fit a lifejacket, do a step entry into deep water, float in the H.E.L.P. position, then with a couple of buddies or a group form a huddle, return to edge and get out
Moving through the water - Propulsion
  • Move 15m non-stop, using any form of propulsion
  • Move through the water environments of all kinds (currents, waves, depth – in situ or simulated)
  • Move 50m and/or 3 minutes non-stop, confidently and competently – using any form of propulsion on their side, front, back, or a mixture
  • Move 100m and/or 5 minutes non-stop, confidently and competently – using any form of propulsion on their side, front, back, or a mixture


Click here for the directory to contact a Water Skills for Life instructor.
Click here for Database User Guide and School Resources


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