Swimming has always been part of Ryan Anderson‘s life – and the Aqualine Swim company owner has come a long way from the days of learning to swim at Oamaru’s outdoor pool. He talks to Rebecca Ryan about his passion for the water.

Q Tell me a bit about your childhood in Oamaru?

I grew up in Oamaru, went to Oamaru North School then Oamaru Intermediate School, where my mother was a teacher (Cath Anderson – you can never quite explain what it’s like having your mother as a teacher at your school), then on to Waitaki Boys’. I was in a family of four – my mother Cath, father Bevan and sister Claire. Dad died in 2000 when I was in fifth form, which made me grow up incredibly quickly. He was the operations manager at Willetts Furniture. When I left Oamaru, I studied in Auckland, then went overseas to Vancouver for 18 months to finish up my study, majoring in management and international business.

Q I hear you were a good swimmer as a kid. What sort of level did you get to?

I learned to swim at the Oamaru Swim Club, but I don’t think I was anything special. I always had what is called a swimmer’s build (broad shoulders), which made freestyle and butterfly my strengths. I swam at club level, then for eastern districts regionals, and I eventually made it to division two, under my coach Kay McIntee. She was one of my greatest supporters, apart from my mum and dad. I cannot hold Kay in high enough regard for what she did. I really believe the actual person swimming doesn’t make the swimmer – the support around them makes them.

Q What were your career ambitions growing up?

Honestly, I wanted to be either a racing car driver or doing exactly what I’m doing – running a business. My father was in management and was a real people person. My greatest memory of his funeral was not only seeing friends and family, but seeing the truck drivers that used to deliver stuff to his work, the posties, his staff. I also always looked up to my uncle Murray Cleverley, who ran various businesses after being the house master at Waitaki Boys’. He just put in so much hard work, and was a real rags to riches story.

Q How did you end up in Auckland and owning Aqualine?

When I returned from Canada, my mother owned Aqualine and I was employed as a sales representative. The opportunity came up to buy a partner out in 2011, which I managed to do. For the next seven years mum and I ran Aqualine, building it from strength to strength, to become a serious national player in the market. In 2018, I purchased the remaining shares to become the sole owner/director of it.

Q Tell me a little bit about Aqualine?

Aqualine is a New Zealand-owned and operated company providing high quality swimming equipment to the New Zealand market. Initially, we concentrated on the learn-to-swim market to grow our presence – we were one of the little guys at the beginning. As those kids have grown up they’ve generally stuck with our product, which means our youth and adult market is now one of our largest, with the adult and performance market steadily growing, especially with the growth in triathlons around the country.

Q Do you still have family in Oamaru?

Yes – my mother lives down there, and my nana and grandad. My father’s parents also lived in Oamaru until they passed. I have aunties and uncles in Timaru, Cromwell and Christchurch, and my wife and her parents are born and bred Southlanders, with their rolling r’s to boot. I visit probably three or four times a year.

Q Is there anything you miss about North Otago?

The major thing I miss is walking down the street and saying “hi” to people – it just doesn’t happen in big cities.

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