AUT Millennium Swim School opened its doors for the first time in 2002.
Back then, lessons were held in one of two pools, the 50m Olympic-sized pool, or the purpose-built water baby and toddler pool.
15 years later, the Swim School has expanded to accommodate lessons every day of the week for almost 3,000 members of the community.
Over 50 qualified swimming instructors are employed by the Swim School, tasked with helping to encourage swimmers at every age and stage to learn how to swim, or improve their aquatic capabilities.
With over 100 lessons every weekend, visiting AUT Millennium on a Saturday will give you an exciting glimpse into the hustle and bustle of a facility dedicated to improving the health and fitness of an entire community.
The action starts early.
At 5am the first visitors arrive at AUT Millennium. Squads of competitive swimmers shuffle through the doors under a veil of darkness for their final session of the week.
Chatty groups of young swimmers follow their lead slightly later and then at 8am the facility becomes the domain of families.
You will see prams, big bags and grinning faces. From babies to toddlers, school-aged and teenagers.
There is a feeling of energy that washes through the facility as people arrive ready for their swimming lessons.
It is the buzz of activity, meeting families and helping to encourage children to swim that inspires swim teacher Lisa Deacon every day.
Lisa has been with the Swim School since day one. Plucked from her former role as a school teacher, Steve Lindsay, Chief Operating Officer of AUT Millennium, explains that the instructor has been an integral part of the Swim School team since its inception.
“Her knowledge of child development, her teaching skills and getting a positive message across is second to none”.
“Lisa is an important part of the swim school and her hard work is exemplified by her 15 years of service to AUT Millennium.”
Lisa specialises in baby and toddler lessons and has had the pleasure of seeing children as young as three months old grow and move through the different levels at Swim School.
“My heart is with the young ones,” she explains.
“I love seeing the children progress, especially the little ones. Watching them go from not being able to do anything to performing arm circles and being confident in the water is really special.”
Since starting at the Swim School in 2002, Lisa has now taught thousands of children to swim and enjoy the water.
“It is a rewarding experience. Learning to swim is such an important skill to learn in New Zealand”.
“My favourite moments have been watching the reactions of children when they finally complete a new skill. The smiles give me such a sense of pride and gratitude for being able to share the journey with them.”
During her time at the Swim School, Lisa has taught entire families to swim and, as she points out, the family-centred nature of the Swim School is one of her favourite aspects of the job.
“When I had my children, I was able to re-join the team after maternity leave. The support networks are something I’m incredibly grateful for. The staff, the students and the parents are all so kind. I’m proud to work here.”
“There is such a sense of togetherness between everyone. I love being able to chat with the other mums while my children have their lessons or afterwards over a coffee. It’s a pretty inspiring place to learn to swim.”
The Swim School’s commitment to the community and helping to develop strong swimmers is a leading reason that Lisa continues to be such a dedicated member of the team after so many years.
All of Lisa’s children have learnt to swim with AUT Millennium and one of her favourite moments throughout her time with the organisation occurred when Gracie, her eldest daughter, finished her own lessons and returned as a swim teacher.
“She has such a passion for teaching children to swim. I’m so proud of her. Watching Gracie qualify for the top squad then return to help the next generation is amazing.”
Lisa places a huge emphasis on swimming lessons for her family, so it’s no surprise that Gracie excelled through every level and returned to pass on her skills.
“I’ve always had one rule for my children, and that’s to swim until they qualify for the ‘Fitness Class’”.
The reason behind the rule is simple, she wants her children to be safe.
“That’s why I adore swim teaching,” explains Lisa
“Helping other children to be more confident and more skilled in the water gives parents piece of mind when it comes to their safety at home in the pool, at the beach or on holiday.”
AUT Millennium Swim School is exceptionally lucky to have someone so passionate on their team to help the community be the best they can be.