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Making a difference . . . Waitaki Aquatic Centre head coach Paulo Brayner has been taking a migrant swimming group for the past four weeks. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Paulo Brayner knows how important it is for migrants to feel connected.

The Brazilian native moved from Queenstown to Oamaru in 2017 and was embraced by Waitaki’s Migrant Support and Newcomers Network, which he says made the transition easier.

When former co›ordinator Christine Dorsey approached Mr Brayner, who is the Waitaki Aquatic Centre head coach, in March about hosting a migrant swimming group, he throught it was a ‘‘fantastic idea’’.

As a migrant, he understood the importance of social connections — and it was a chance for him to give back to the Oamaru community that had given him so much.

Mrs Dorsey organised funding for six weeks and last month Mr Brayner began taking sessions for the 10 women interested in swimming.

The women all came from different countries, including Argentina, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and they all had different experiences in water. Some had never swum, others had terrible experiences and others wanted to learn new skills.

Mr Brayner helped familiarise them with the water, and taught them water survival skills, and water safety, in a fun environment.

‘‘I don’t want to create champions, I want to create people . . . who are here to learn but have a good time as well.’’

The swimming group had been a major success. Mr Brayner loved being involved and the participants’ skills had developed immensely.

‘‘I [can] feel them being really confident and amazed about their achievements.

‘‘It makes me feel happy. I consider myself a really lucky person because [of] the job that I do. [I’m] helping people to . .. get over their setbacks.

‘‘For me, I’ve got lots of satisfaction as a professional.’’

The sessions were a community service and were making a difference.

‘‘I think this is a really important thing for the community in general because we’re helping people.’’

The sessions were only funded for two more weeks and Mr Brayner hoped additional funding could be found to keep them going.