North Shore Good & Bad

Over the years I have seen up close and personal a good many swim schools. From the BGI, where at our biggest we taught 4000 lessons a week in seven pools, to a small school with about 150 swimmers operating out of the Quality Inn pool in Wellington’s Willis Street. I have been responsible for swim schools in the Virgin Islands, the United States, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia.

An inevitable product of that experience is a feel for the qualities that make for a good and bad swim school. Good lessons have a quality that is as hard to define as it is easy to detect. They might be quietly serious or boisterous and loud. But in all cases constructive learning is the end result. Bad lessons are equally obvious. They too can be quietly serious or boisterous and loud. But the feeling of students wanting the half hour to end is impossible to escape.

The swim schools I watch most these days are the Waterhole Swim School in West Auckland and the Millennium Swim School on Auckland’s North Shore. Without any reservation I would recommend both these schools. If you want your child to learn to swim you will not find no better home in Auckland than these two schools. Today however, for reasons that will become obvious, I want to focus on the Millennium Swim School.

The school is big. Possibly not as big as we were at the BGI but, with three pools on the go, it is one of New Zealand’s biggest. It is not easy to maintain size and quality. Anybody who achieves that deserves our respect. At the Millennium Swim School that’s Rachel. She is the boss. She is one of those gifted people who, no matter how busy she is, always seems to have a heap of time. Time to say hello, time to ask about your day, time to listen to your answer. She manages to find the difficult balance between efficiency and care, between discipline and fun, between friendship and leadership. They say good and bad things start at the top. At the Millennium Swim School that is certainly where good things have their beginning.

Eyad teaches at the school. I actually took Eyad through the course that ended with him earning his swim teacher’s certificate. He was an excellent student principally because he knew the product and taught it with genuine care. I don’t know whether his concern is an act or the product of a genuinely nice person; maybe a bit of both. My mother was a good teacher and freely admitted to putting on her grease-paint to perform each day’s teaching duties. I guess the source of Eyad’s success does not really matter. The end result is students who love their teacher and would do anything to earn his praise. As a refugee Eyad has been fortunate to find such a good swim school to begin his working life in New Zealand. The swim school too has been fortunate to find a very good Syrian swim teacher.

One of the swim school supervisors is Jane. That is not her real name; for reasons that will become obvious. She too is a good boss. She comes across as a bit busier than Rachel but never too busy to say hello to that “controversial” David Wright and stop to find out how training is progressing. I suspect she does no always agree with the more critical stories printed on Swimwatch. However that certainly is not a fault. A year ago I had a real problem at the pool and was ill several times. The care Jane showed for my health was above and beyond the call of duty.

The North Shore is fortunate to have a swim teaching jewel at the Millennium pools. If you are looking for a place for yourself or your children to learn to swim, I doubt you will find a better choice than the Millennium Swim School.

But back to Jane. Jane has a daughter Mandy. I’ve met Mandy. She is fifteen and comes across as a well brought up hard working teenager; a decent and balanced young woman. I was horrified to read the following report on the “Stuff” website.

The mother of a girl who was randomly attacked at a McDonald’s restaurant in Auckland says she is appalled more wasn’t done to help them. A 15-year-old North Shore girl and her best friend went into the McDonald’s by Glenfield Mall around 4.30pm on Monday. Within minutes, two girls jeered at them from across the restaurant, asking what they were looking at, the mother said.

Kate* and Mandy* moved tables but the pair followed them, Kate’s mum told Stuff. They were attacked from behind. Kate’s mum said her daughter was pulled by her hair and yanked down onto the floor of the restaurant, where she was repeatedly punched.

Kate’s nose piercing was ripped out along with damage done to a piercing on the top of her ear, she said. Mandy hit her head on the table, Kate’s mum said. The “horrifying” attack went on for about two minutes. “Hysterical” and “sobbing”, the girls walked out of the restaurant by themselves, phoning their dads for help. The two attackers remained in the restaurant, Kate’s mum said.

McDonald’s spokesman Simon Kenny said the franchise owner was assisting police with the investigation into the incident. Police confirmed officers attended an assault at the McDonald’s and were looking into the incident.

So there you have it the best and the worst of society. The best coming in the form of good people running a first class swim school. And the worst coming from two low lifes who can’t handle their lives or control the urge to spread hurt and pain. I guess all we can hope is that the former prosper and succeed and the latter are caught, disciplined and reform. Sadly I am optimistic about the first and pessimistic about the prospects of the second.

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