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The start of something extraordinary

Olympic Swimmer Gareth Kean gives back to Wellington Schools

Monday 3rd September was a very special day for 2 State Kiwi Swim Safe schools in the Wellington region. Swimming New Zealand visited both schools with Koru the Kiwi for an assembly, and were joined by Wellington based Olympic Swimmer Gareth Kean who delighted the kids with stories about what it takes to be one of the best in the world!

Our first stop for the day was Maranatha Christian School in Belmont. This school value swimming as part of their curriculum, and encourage all of their students to swim outside of the school environment with their friends and families as much as they can.

After an assembly, Gareth visited each classroom to sit and talk with the students about his swimming career, his goals for the future and what drives him to swim at an Olympic level. There were lots of fantastic questions asked by the students and teachers alike including “what is your daily routine for training”, “who did you room with at the Olympics” and “what events do you swim in”. Gareth was very open in his answers and gave the kids a great insight into himself as a person, and what his life as a professional athlete is like. He spoke with the students about his motivation for swimming, and what sacrifices he has had to make to follow his swimming dreams. Gareth also read the students a water safety book and talked about how important it is to learn to swim and stay safer this summer.
The day finished with a visit to Kelson School for an assembly where the school were presented with their State Kiwi Swim Safe school certificate.

There were whispers aplenty as the Kelson students entered the school hall to see Gareth awaiting their arrival. Many knew Gareth from “somewhere” but were not quite sure where. The Olympic rings on his jacket gave a good clue, and there was lots of noise, clapping and cheering when he was introduced to the wide eyed students. Lots of fantastic questions were asked, and there were wide smiles when Gareth did dry land demonstrations of the 4 swimming strokes.

Koru and Gareth had “swimming races” across the school hall with a few Koru fans believing he could beat Gareth in both the Freestlye and Backstroke races – there was no disappointment when Gareth won both races, with the students quickly changing their minds and pledging their allegiance to their Olympic hero.  The handing out of State Kiwi Swim Safe wristbands, stickers, tattoos and even State towels was the icing on the cake for both schools, with many requests for autographs and photos also being made.

It was a fantastic day, and the students really enjoyed getting up close and personal with such a personable and inspiring swimmer. We would like to thank Gareth for his time, and sharing so much about his personal life with all involved. It was a great way for all children to see that anything is possible if you learn water safety and swimmer skills.