New children's swim membership making a splash

Christchurch City Council Newsline: 11th July 2017

A new approach to learning to swim will give children free access to Council pools outside their lesson times.

A revamped Swimsmart Membership allows kids to swim for free at all Christchurch City Council pools outside of their booked lesson to give them the best opportunity to practise their skills.

Swimsmart lessons have given Alex Riley (6) and his big sister Madison (9) confidence in the water.Previously Swimsmart lessons were booked on a term by term basis. Customers can now enrol for a membership that offers up to 48 weeks of lessons per year and unlimited access to all Council pools and summer pools for the membership holder.

The change will mean that families enrolling their children in swimming lessons can pay by weekly, fortnightly, or monthly direct debit instalments - similar to a typical gym membership - rather than having to pay the full amount up-front before lessons start. These new Flexi memberships can be frozen for up to eight weeks in a 12 month period. 

There are currently about 4000 Swimsmart customers. For those who prefer not to change, there is still an option of booking lessons for a fixed term - a minimum of eight weeks - and paying for this up-front.

Cheri Riley - whose daughter Madison (9) and son Alex (6) are enrolled in swimming lessons at Jellie Park - has already signed them up for the new Flexi Swimsmart Membership and thinks it's a great idea. "It's really good for us because I have a gym and pool membership so it means we can all get in for a swim and no-one has to pay. I think having the lessons continuously rather than re-booking every term makes much more sense.

"It will also be good for the kids to have lessons during the school holidays I think, because otherwise they forget what they've learnt after a couple of weeks out of the routine."

The flexibility of being able to freeze the membership for up to eight weeks will also work for the Riley family because they have an overseas holiday planned.

More about the Swimsmart Programme at Christchurch pools

Swimsmart memberships are available for children aged from six months up to 16-year-olds. For under five-year-olds, a caregiver also swims for free under their child's membership. 

The new scheme, developed by the Council’s Recreation and Sport Unit, is based on customer feedback and research that shows providing free swimming outside of lessons delivers the best results for children. 

Jellie Park Programme and Activity Leader Kew Taggart says the new Swimsmart memberships are about making lessons more accessible for families and more effective. "The idea behind giving kids unlimited access to our pools is that it gives them the chance to practice the skills they're learning in their lessons, without having to pay extra. We know that if they go swimming more often, they'll become more confident and competent in the water and that's really our ultimate goal."

Grading will occur on a continuous basis as part of the new approach - so children will move up a level as soon as they’re ready. If there's no space available at that level at a suitable time, the child will be placed on a wait list and extended at their current level.

Visit the Swimsmart offices at Jellie Park, Graham Condon or Pioneer to book. You can also contact Swimsmart for further information (03 377 7690 or swimsmart[at]ccc.govt.nz).