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Scratching the surface . . . Waitaki Valley School pupils (back, from left) Ava (8) and Ryan Tait (5), Jayden Morland (12), Jonti Graham (12), Georgia Bell (12), Matilda Chilton (12), Caitlin Tait (11); (front, from left) Hudson Ormandy (10) and Ollie Chilton (10) will all benefit from having a refurbished pool. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

Swimming pools are not just about splashing around and having fun.

They are places where people learn important, and potentially life-saving, skills.

That is why the Waitaki Valley School and Community Swimming Pool is receiving an upgrade.

Waitaki Valley School principal Jane Severinsen said the pool played an important role in teaching children about water safety.

“The Ministry [of Education] often considers pools a luxury item,” Ms Severinsen said.

“[But] we are dominated by the Waitaki River – and our kids are in and out of [it] – and the Waitaki lakes … it’s so important our children know how to swim and be safe.”

Although the pool is on school grounds, it is available to the whole community and is maintained by the Waitaki District Council.

When it was not being used for interschool competitions and swimming lessons for pupils, it is open to group or individual key holders.

Last season, there were 276 key holders.

It had been almost 10 years since its most recent upgrade, the instalment of solar panels to heat the pools in 2012.

Its latest upgrade, which would cost more than $50,000, would include the instalment of a new filtration system and repainting of the facility’s pool surfaces.

Friends of Waitaki Valley School chairwoman Jules Taylor said the community was pulling together to make the upgrade happen.

“It’s quite a big job,” Miss Taylor said.

The school would contribute $8000 to the project, and it had also received a $25,000 grant from Meridian Energy. Without the support from Meridian, it would not be possible, Ms Severinsen said.

“There’s only so much money that comes in for a school of 110 [pupils].”

Friends of Waitaki Valley School has been fundraising since April.

On August 14, the group is bringing comedy duo The Bitches’ Box – Emma Newborn and Amelia Dunbar – to the Kurow Memorial Hall, with proceeds going towards the pool upgrade.

Nine of the 10 tables at the Kurow performance were already sold, but public donations were welcome and anyone interested in contributing could contact the school at office@waitakivalley.school.nz.