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Carterton students go to some lengths to save pool

More than 200 children from five schools swam a total of 119,793 metres in six hours at Carterton’s indoor pool last week — smashing their fundraising goal of $2000 towards the facility’s “urgent upgrade”.

The continuous swim was the Carterton schools’ contribution to the month-long Central ITM Big Swim fundraising campaign to upgrade the ageing pool, southern Wairarapa’s only indoor swimming facility.

Last Thursday’s event, organised by Southend School principal Clare Crawford, involved pupils from the participating schools – South End, Dalefield, St Mary’s School, Gladstone and Carterton Schools – swimming lengths in groups.

“There’s always been someone swimming across the whole six hours,” Crawford said. “And we are doing this to save the pool.”

The pool, built in 1987, is in need of over $2 million worth of repairs – with community members working hard to secure funds via the Carterton Indoor Pool Project, established in 2022.

The importance of the pool to the schools and wider community is “massive”, she said. “This is the only all-year-round indoor facility we’ve got in the south.”

South End School uses the pool for swimming lessons in winter, which it runs every second year.

“We live in New Zealand, surrounded by water, so I think all kids, before they leave primary school, should be able to swim,” Crawford said.

“Our philosophy at South End is that kids need to be confident in and around water. It’s really important and a huge passion of mine.”

As well as being noisy, splashy fun, pulling together to save the pool with the continuous swim initiative teaches the children the importance of community, Crawford said.

“Part of our teaching and learning with our kids is if you give something to your community, your community will support you,” she said.

Throughout the day, teachers, friends and family supported the students to complete their laps.

“They are loving it,” proud grandma Bev Dench, who came to support grandson Thomas, said.

Thomas learned to swim in the pool, and his grandmother could see he was “really doing it right” during the swim challenge.

“The upgrade is great,” Dench said, and in her opinion, “well overdue”.

“I used to swim here 23 years ago, and it looked like this then,” she said.

Thomas agreed: “Looking at the beams and all that, I think it does really need an upgrade, and I think it will be really cool.”

Catherine Rossiter-Stead, who is helping to organise the Big Swim month, has been heartened by the support the campaign has received – not only from within Wairarapa, but from further afield.

“We’ve actually got the support of the nation behind us,” she said. “Swimming New Zealand has incorporated our campaign into its ‘Metres for Paris’ initiative. I’m really chuffed they’ve got behind it.”

The Big Swim has shown what people can do when they work together, Rossiter-Stead said.

“The people working behind the scenes on the Carterton Indoor Pool Project have gone all out to support us. We are also really grateful to the local businesses who have supported us.”

The Carterton schools’ continuous swim raised $2535, and the Big Swim total currently stands at $23,047, with more than two weeks left to go.

To donate or to get involved in the Central ITM Big Swim challenge, visit www.givealittle.co.nz/event/the-big-swim-nz

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