Lifeguard and swim instructor Mami Mori has loved the water all her life.
Growing up in Japan she and her brother attended swimming lessons from the age of nine. Later, they caught the bus to training three times a week and by junior high school Mami was a competitive freestyle and breaststroke swimmer.
“My mother couldn’t swim so she wanted us to be able to. I wasn’t as strong as my brother, he was a national rep – but I loved swimming.”
Not only is Mami a Swimsmart tutor at Pioneer Pool she’s also a lifeguard at Christchurch City Council owned Jellie Park and Waltham Pool.
She first started last summer and just two weeks into the job she was jumping in to save a boy who was struggling and at risk of drowning at Jellie Park.
“What I had been taught to look for was exactly what I saw happening in the pool, making the training very valuable. I didn’t need to think about what to do, I reacted to the situation and jumped into the water immediately.
“He was a bit shocked but he was okay. I was a bit shocked too but it gave me confidence knowing I could make the right decisions and help those in trouble.”
Mami says it’s not just children who can panic or get into trouble at the swimming pool.
“If people haven’t learned to swim as children they can sometimes lack skills or confidence in the water.”
That’s one of the reason she enjoys teaching swim classes, so people can grow up feeling happy and confident in the water, especially as there’s so many beaches, rivers and lakes in New Zealand.
Her students are primary aged children and pre-schoolers, who are “very cute” and have lots of energy, she says.
“They’re so enthusiastic, though sometimes it’s hard to get them to listen!”
When she’s working as a lifeguard, she keeps a watchful eye on everyone, especially children.
“With the warmer weather bringing more and more people to the pool we constantly monitor the poolside and look out for any potential hazards.
“What I love best about my job is seeing the improvement of the students in the swimming classes and as a lifeguard I can help ensure people are safe and having fun.”
Does she have any advice for the public this summer?
“I would say listen to the lifeguards at all times and respect other pool users and staff. And if you are a parent or caregiver, help us out by looking out for your children too, actively supervise under eight's and keep under five's within an arm's reach.”