Lifting our aquatics game for staff and community
We’d like to congratulate the Kāpiti Aquatics staff who are working hard to boost their skills and earn important qualifications.
We currently have 23 staff at various stages of education as they work towards qualifications in lifeguarding and swim instructing, up from 14 last year. This includes five who have achieved swim instruction qualifications, and 17 apprentices.
Kāpiti Coast Aquatics training coordinator Zuri Brudenell says the strategic decision to lift staff capability is paying off in a number of ways.
“We’ve always had really great people with really great skills working in our pools,” Zuri says.
“What we are seeing now is those who have been with us for a while having their knowledge and skills recognised through their study and gaining qualifications, and newer staff starting out on this journey from the get go.
“What this means at a practical level is that people working in aquatics are not only growing their skills and becoming better at their jobs, they are also more engaged and happier in their work.
“This is great for them, and also means those using our pools can be assured they are in safe hands when using our facilities – whether they are learning to swim, swimming for fun or fitness, or watching from the sidelines.”
To deliver training opportunities we’ve teamed up with Skills Active and Swimming New Zealand to offer zero-fee qualifications and apprenticeships through the Government's Targeted Training Fund.
Through this staff are working towards gaining a Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Aquatics specialising as a Pool Lifeguard or Swim Teacher, or progressing to Level 4 Aquatics NZ Certificates for Senior Lifeguards or specialised Swim Teacher.
By the end of the year there will be 10 fully qualified swim instructors working in the pools with more on the horizon.
The qualifications cover a range of valuable skills that have the benefit of being transferable to other industries and workplaces. These include modules on team management, emergency management, health and safety, chemical handling, working at height and computer skills.
“Some of the team have a lot of on-the-job skills they didn’t realise they had, like conflict resolution, customer service or working with children, and are able to have these recognised.
“Some of our more senior staff are really growing their skills, and we are pleased to now have someone qualified to provide pre-hospital emergency care should the worst happen.”
All staff are earning internationally recognised AustSwim qualifications.
Opportunities for people at many ages and stages
Whether you’re looking for a part-time job to help you through university, something to fit in with family life or a full-time gig there are options in aquatics.
“We’ve got people returning to work after a time at home with children, students coming back year on year to work with us over the summer break, and people seeking career changes,” Zuri says.
“We’re lifting the pay rates and with the education opportunities available it is a great option for people looking for an active, people-facing job.”
The work can be varied and interesting, and no two days are the same. If swim instructing is your thing you can do everything from working with kids just starting out on their swimming journey to training up-and-coming athletes as they push for higher honours. Fancy progressing into leadership roles? You could find yourself on a management bootcamp learning all about how to make teams tick.
- New Zealand Certificate in Aquatics (Aquafitness Instructor)
- New Zealand Certificate in Aquatics (Swim and Water Safety Teacher)
- New Zealand Certificate in Aquatics (Senior Pool Lifeguard)
If you’d like to dive into a career with Kāpiti Coast Aquatics keep an eye on the vacancies page at kapiticoast.govt.nz/your-council/job-vacancies
Get to know some of the team
Liam McArdle – Lifeguard
Name and position: I’m Liam McArdle, and I’m a lifeguard at the Coastlands Aquatics Centre.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’m from Waikanae and still live there. Outside of work I’m a surfer and I’m interested in video making. I feel at home anywhere around the water.
What attracted you to working at Kāpiti Coast Aquatics and when did you start? I’ve worked here for two years. It’s a great job that works in with my lifestyle and gives me the opportunity to gain great skills and qualifications.
What is your favourite thing about working in aquatics? It’s a very people-focused job which I enjoy. I love engaging with the customers and building relationships with them, and making sure everyone is safe.
How are you finding combining work and studying for aquatics qualifications? I’m currently working towards the Senior Pool Lifeguard apprenticeship, which covers things like emergency management, water quality and managing day to day operations of a facility. It can be hard working full time and studying, you need to be committed, but it’s great to be working for more than just money – I'm getting new skills and qualifications which I can use in whatever comes next.
What would you say to someone thinking about working in aquatics? It’s great. You get to work with all sorts of people, and whether a customer is five or 75, we treat them the same and keep an eye out for everyone.
Monique Lepionka – Senior Lifeguard/Operations Coodinator
Name and position: I’m Monique Lepionka, I’ve been a Senior Lifeguard at Coastlands Aquatic Centre and I’m about to start a new role as Operations Coordinator at Waikanae Pool.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born in Wellington and I love sports. I am a Paekākāriki Surf Lifeguard and director of Junior Surf at the Paekākāriki Surf Club. I am married with three kids, and both my husband and I spend our spare time coaching and managing hockey teams. I enjoy mountain biking, and love to travel and discover new places. We have a dog, two cats and three rabbits.
What attracted you to working at Kāpiti Coast Aquatics and when did you start? I have always loved water and water sports, and being passionate about water safety led me to lifeguarding. I've been at Coastlands Aquatic Centre for 12 months.
What is your favourite thing about working aquatics? There is a lot of variety in the job, and I like working in a community space where I get to meet and help many customers.
How are you finding combining work and studying for aquatics qualifications? It's pretty tricky to be honest, but I love learning new things so it's well worth putting the time into studying. I’m on the pathway to a Level 4 Aquatics Apprenticeship.
What would you say to someone thinking about working in aquatics? Definitely come and see us at any of the Kāpiti Aquatics pools and have a chat about working in an awesome place. It’s fun, challenging and rewarding!
Wendy Donnelly – Swim instructor
Name and position: I’m Wendy Donnelly, I’m a swim instructor and I work across all three Kāpiti pools.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’ve lived in Kāpiti with my now-teenage twins for over 15 years and we love it on the Coast. We’ve had a long relationship with the pools – my daughter has special needs and we would come to the pool all the time for water soothing which helped her ‘cope’ AND we got to know some of the staff.
Consequently we have deep roots here and my daughter still has a relationship with her first swim teacher! I also do triathlons and love the outdoors... which converts to a family that uses the pool facilities often every week.
What attracted you to working at Kāpiti Coast Aquatics and when did you start? When I saw how well they worked with my daughter I thought I’d love to train as a swim instructor and it went from there. You could say we came for a look and never left. It’s like a home for us, we feel welcomed all the time. I’ve worked here for three years now… and just love what I do and the services we deliver!
What is your favourite thing about working in aquatics? The customers. It’s so diverse, you teach everyone from babies up to athletes and you’re never bored, I just love it. It’s also the perfect recipe for me with my family – working part-time in a great environment.
How are you finding combining work and studying for aquatics qualifications? I’ve completed the AUSTSWIM Teacher Certificate and SkillsActive Level 3 Swim Teacher Certificate, and now I’m working towards the New Zealand Certificate in Aquatics (Specialized Swim & Water Safety Teacher) Level 4. I’m very well supported so I had no hesitation taking it on, and I’m passing. Overall I’m learning all the time and that’s ageless.
What would you say to someone thinking about working in aquatics? It’s one of the best places to be, it’s a family and an employer. You have to bring your best game every day and to do that you need to be well-supported – and we are.