Bay woman making a splash in water safety
Anne McLeod has resided by the Tauranga coastline for more than 60 years.
Throughout this time, she has created a life within water safety; learning, educating and practicing not only how to swim, but how to survive in our waters.
Growing up in Merivale, Anne went to primary school, intermediate and secondary school in the local area.
“I worked for Water Safety New Zealand for many years, as well as Swimming New Zealand,” she says.
“When I was in these roles I worked in schools and the community, and was very involved with swimming and water safety nationwide.”
After many years, Anne finished working for Swimming NZ to join her husband in setting up McLeod Cranes and Hiabs, and worked alongside him in business for many years.
She continued to be involved nationally with swimming, but it wasn’t until her grandchildren started school that she decided to pick up where she had left off with water safety.
“I realised schools weren’t getting enough help and children weren’t learning what they should about survival skills as the current Swimming NZ - Water Skills for Life programme only touches the surface.
“Swimming was becoming a sport rather than a skill for life which really worried me. I thought about this a lot and began to research before reaching out to my good friend Alison Wieringa.
“My passion is all about teaching children how to survive, and while I’ve taught a lot of children – and adults – to learn to swim, we decided collectively that something needed to change in the water survival area.”
The pair reached out to Water Safety NZ and to Swimming NZ, who both decided to jump on board to develop an extension programme.
The pilot programme, to be launched in the Tauranga area, will be known as Water Skills for Life Plus.
“So many wonderful businesses, colleagues and friends have come together, and we’ve raised enough money to work with 10 schools and over 2000 children within the pilot project,” explains Anne.
“I want the kids in my back yard to be able to be safe in and around water – we’ve got too many drowning stats in this country.
“This Water Skills for Life Plus programme is designed specifically for children to learn in their school pools, assisting teachers to be key in the delivery group.
“This pilot project will make it fun and exciting while learning how to survive.
“That’s the influence I want to have with our children, and hopefully their parents and caregivers will come along for the ride.”