The Waitaki Aquatic Centre is diving into new waters.

This term, the centre is starting up a flippa ball competition for primary and intermediate children aged 7 to 13. Flippa ball is similar towater polo, with many of the same rules, but is moderated for younger children to be introduced to the sport.

Each team has six players, and games are made up of two 10 minute halves and played at the shallow end of the pool.

Waitaki Aquatic Centre swim coach Paulo Brayner said flippa ball was good fun and designed for anyone — including non-swimmers.

‘‘That’s the point. You don’t have to be an outstanding swimmer to play,’’ Brayner said.

The competition, which will get under way on the week of August 15, will run for 13 weeks and has room for 14 teams. A set day for the competition was yet to be decided.

Each team needed a parent or manager to help, and the competition would be split into two grades — one for year 4 to 6, and one for year 7 and 8, he said.

Flippa ball had been trialled at the centre at the Waitaki District Council facilities’ ‘‘welcome back’’ event in May, and during the recent school holidays.

There had been ‘‘fantastic’’ interest and Brayner was looking forward to getting the competition under way. ‘‘We are excited because it’s worthwhile.

‘‘It’s a really, really fun activity and it helps them . . . develop some skills because they are team [and] interact with the community.’’

Brayner said the sport was played in Dunedin and Timaru and was popular. If the Oamaru competition had strong enough numbers, there were opportunities to play against other regions in the future.

But for now his focus was on getting more people into the sport and the pool.

‘‘For me the main thing [is they] develop some kind of water skills and awareness.’’

The aquatic centre was slowly changing its general hours to close earlier, allowing more programmes to be held in the evening.

Brayner started adult swimming lessons on Saturdays during term two. While he could see people were interested, many people were unable to attend for various reasons, forcing them to stop.

With the pool being free later, Brayner would hold adult swimming lessons at night time, adding another option to the aqua fit classes.

‘‘I’ve got a good response of people interested.’’

He was continuing to run migrant swimming lessons as well and had also started coaching a Special Olympics group once a week at the pool.

During the school holidays he ran extra clinics for the Oamaru Swim Club’s competitive swimmers and had ideas for additional clinics and programmes in the future.

‘‘Of course I would like to implement something that would be interesting for our community.’’

Anyone interested in flippa ball can contact Brayner at [email protected].