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Water Skills For Life For Beach

Water Safety New Zealand is working with Surf Life Saving NZ, Swimming NZ, Surfing NZ and other partners, to develop a Water Skills for Life Beach education programme, targeting students in Year 3 – 8 at primary school. This will become the natural extension to Water Skills for Life.

Research suggests that aquatic skills are developed faster and retained for longer, when they are experienced and learnt in natural environments. Water Skills for Life Beach will incorporate all the learnings from the foundation programme, Water Skills for Life with the added indepth learnings around beach/rocky foreshore recreation and water safety.

The programme will have various learning components which may be experienced in the classroom, on field trips to the beach (dryland), in a pool/wave pool and in, on and around the water at the beach. It will ideally be taught in school time and will align with the refreshed NZ Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

We are interested in receiving responses from water safety sector providers about what this programme could look like and how it could be delivered.

This new programme is likely to take into account a shorter delivery time, ie less than a full day (the current Beach Ed programme is a full day), be delivered in various locations/environments, and possibly across multi days, and may not necessarily need to involve students getting into the water at a beach (for health and safety purposes).

Thank you in advance for your feedback about what a new look Water Skills for Life Beach programme could look like. Your feedback will be collated into a spreadsheet and discussed among the working group comprising members of SLSNZ, WSNZ, Surfing NZ, Swimming NZ and AustSwim.

The working group is keen to have a pilot up and running before June 2021.

Beach Programme Survey

e.g understanding Rips/Currents



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.


Background Information

This Water Skills for Life background document provides information about why the programme was developed, what the programme is about and expectations for life long water safety.


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