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Last modified: 29 Jul 2020 10:30am

A woman with short red hair in a dark blue swimming top stands in a pool holding her arms out towards three children in lifejackets standing on the edge of the pool

Selwyn Swim School instructor Jenny Heaton’s outstanding contribution to teaching swimming has been recognised nationally.

Ms Heaton won the Outstanding Contribution to Learn to Swim award at the New Zealand Swim Coaches and Teachers Association national awards for her 14 years of teaching, including six at Selwyn Aquatic Centre, where she is the Preschool Coordinator.

She also set up Splash Time, a free class for parents and children, trained and mentored six volunteers to become qualified swim instructors, and championed the introduction of the popular safe boating programme.

Council Aquatic Facilities manager James Richmond says the career award was a huge achievement to win against people who had been working in the industry all their lives. It is well deserved for a teacher who is loved by children and parents, he says. “Jenny is attentive to all 570 children enrolled in the preschool programme. She engages with and tracks them all.”

Originally a preschool teacher, Ms Heaton first got into teaching when she was taking her children to swimming classes and doing some lifeguarding.

She says she loves seeing children grow and learn about being safe around water. “It’s my happy place in the pool.”

She did not know the team had nominated her for the award until a few weeks before the awards ceremony.

“It was a bit of a shock to hear my name called out. It’s a pretty  cool award to get, but it’s not something you do on your own, it’s  a team effort.”

Selwyn Swim School based at Selwyn Aquatic Centre was also a finalist in the Outstanding Swim School category.