New Zealand’s pool lifeguards highly qualified and well-supported: Skills Active Aotearoa

August 10, 2017

Claims that New Zealand pool lifeguards lack sufficient support and training to safely monitor swimmers simply don’t hold water, says Skills Active Aotearoa chief executive, Dr Grant Davidson.

Dr Davidson is responding to comments from David Speechley, president of the International Federation of Swimming Teachers' Associations, who said yesterday that the NZ aquatics industry is placing swimmers at risk, and lifeguards are not adequately scanning pools for people in distress.

As the industry training organisation for aquatics, Skills Active works closely with the sector to administer the national on-job training and registration system for pool lifeguards, Dr Davidson says.

Pool lifeguards undergo comprehensive practical training and assessment, aligned to the New Zealand Qualifications Framework, he says. Skills Active and aquatics peak body the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) regularly review pool lifeguard qualifications to ensure they reflect international good practice, and prepare lifeguards for the critical tasks they perform.

At the JAWS conference where Mr Speechley was speaking, Skills Active launched the new foundation pool lifeguard qualification, fully updated and including the most recent recommendations from the NZ Resuscitation Council, Dr Davidson says.

He adds that Skill Active has completed the development stage of an advanced qualification for senior pool lifeguards, due for release in early 2018, which is eagerly anticipated by industry.

“Mr Speechley argues that pool lifeguards should go through training once a year, and re-accreditation every three years. As it stands, New Zealand pool lifeguards already undergo a minimum of quarterly training, and must re-register for their Pool Lifeguard Practising Certificate every two years,” Dr Davidson says.

“We also question where Mr Speechley gets his data on drownings at public and resort pools in New Zealand,” he adds.

“Water Safety NZ figures on council pools, privately-owned pool facilities, school pools and hotel/resort pools, show that total drownings at these types of facilities have averaged two per year over the last five years. They are not ‘continuing to rise’, as Mr Speechley puts it.”

Skills Active was pleased to see an immediate rebuttal of Mr Speechley’s claims from NZRA, which oversees the industry’s PoolSafe quality management scheme.

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Media contact for Skills Active

Esther McLaren
esther@skillsactive.org.nz
0220 371 012

About Skills Active

Skills Active Aotearoa is the industry training organisation (ITO) for sport, recreation, exercise, outdoor recreation and the performing arts. We promote sport and recreation careers and workforce development, create world-class, nationally-recognised qualifications, and support workplaces to train staff.