Developing confidence, learning new skills and being safe in the water. These are just some of the reasons our very own baby and toddler swimming teacher, Cathy Berry, has adored her job after over a decade in the pool.

With her time nearing an end with AUT Millennium Swim School, Cathy explained that the energy of staff, support from community and the feeling of giving back to people have inspired her every single day.

Since starting at Swim School in 2007, Cathy has taught hundreds of our community’s youngest members to swim and the role has left her with a lifetime of memories. From six month old babies to six year old children, Cathy has seen her students grow in both confidence and competence. “This has been more than just a job. I love seeing the change I’ve made in children’s lives. To see entire families progress through each level, learn and have fun in the water. I feel proud that I have been able to give back to my community”.

Cathy’s lessons all take place in a special corner of AUT Millennium. Tucked away from the exciting happenings of adolescent lessons and high-performance training sessions is the purpose built baby and toddler pool. Every lesson Cathy blends fun and skill in order to introduce her students to the watery environment and encourage confidence. Floating, blowing bubbles and games all encourage children to relax and practice their movements in the water.

Learning to swim at a young age provides a number of significant benefits for growing children, from developing coordination, to bonding and boosting confidence, an early introduction to the water helps children instil a skill for life from the very start. “It’s important to learn to swim early because we’re surrounded by beautiful water in New Zealand. The earlier children start, the sooner they become confident” says Cathy.

With recent statistics released by Water Safety New Zealand showing that water-related hospitalisations for our under-five’s doubled last year, teachers like Cathy play a vital role in ensuring children learn to be safe early. “I help children to be both safe in the water and learn to love it”.

Three fast benefits for learning to swim young

  1. It develops coordination

Attending regular swimming lessons can help babies and young children to improve their balance and co-ordination. The warm water environment offers a unique space to use the entire body, giving children an opportunity to engage every muscle.

  1. It’s a chance to bond

Baby swimming lessons offer a perfect opportunity to bond in a fun, active environment. Skin-to-skin contact also helps to promote and strengthen relationships with little ones.

  1. It boosts confidence

Children who are introduced to the water at a very young age are significantly more confident and competent in the water. This can dramatically improve skill acquisition as children grow and help them to learn swimming movements early.