Whether mums make them do it, or they want to beat their mates, Raglan’s young swim club members are arming themselves with valuable life-saving skills when they compete in the Bridge to Bridge Harbour Swim.

Raglan Swimming Club committee member Hinemoa Rossi says being able to swim 200m is considered the benchmark “to save yourself from drowning in the ocean”.

The Bridge to Bridge Harbour Swim, which has been held by the swim club every year since 2013, includes swims of 200m and 300m, for the youngest swimmers, and 500m, 1km and 2km for more experienced swimmers.

The annual fundraiser is open to all members of the public, but the young Raglan swim club members “don’t have a choice”.

“They need to be able to swim in the tide. It’s about the progression from the pool to the harbour to the ocean.

“We live on a dangerous coastline and it’s important our children learn to swim.”

Hinemoa says there are about 150 children in the Raglan swim club.

They start out as Snappers and progress through Dolphins and Orcas before becoming Squad swimmers.

“The 8 year olds who first swam in the Bridge to Bridge are now our young Squad swimmers, 11 years old.

“We really push our young ones,” says Hinemoa.

She says other clubs from Hamilton and Auckland also compete in the event, and the Raglan swimmers more than hold their own.

“You will see all the (Auckland) guys come along in their triathlon wetties, and underwater cameras, and our kids rock up in their boardies, without all the gears, and they are nailing it.

“It’s a testament to the swim club.”

However, Hinemoa says the event is not about winning, but participation.

“Everyone can participate. You don’t have to worry about coming last.”

Young Raglan swimmers Kuhga, Tom and Sam might beg to differ, however.

“I do it to beat Tom,” says Kuhga.

“I do it to beat Kuhga,” says Tom.

“I do it to beat both of them,” says Sam.

“Most of them do it because Mum tells them they have to,” laughs Hinemoa.

Inger Vos