Our Poolsafe Assessors

Stephen Cook, Southland Aquatic Centre

Where you're based... Southland Aquatic Centre (Splash Palace), Invercargill

Your aquatics background... I started lifeguarding back in 1998 at Splash Palace, then I moved to Christchurch in 2000 and started working as a full time lifeguard at Pioneer Leisure Centre. I completed a water treatment certificate in 2001 and transitioned to a Lifeguard Supervisor in 2003. I moved back to Invercargill in 2005 to take up a role as Plant Supervisor for Splash Palace which I was in until February this year when I started my current role as Manager of Aquatic Services for Splash Palace and ICC.

Why you became a Poolsafe Assessor... To share my 23 years of knowledge and experience with other pools in achieving Poolsafe and to learn from them how they operate.

What you're most looking forward to as an assessor... I am looking forward to meeting new people and building connections for future networking.

Your hopes for the aquatics sector... I have always enjoyed working in aquatics, it’s always about the people and the community. I want aquatics to recover and grow from the COVID-19 pandemic, be able to get our rangatahi more engaged in our services and, for us as providers, to be more engaged with our communities in promoting the health and wellbeing benefits of aquatic sport and recreation. I would also like to see career pathways promoted more to try and have a more stable workforce where recruitment isn’t an issue.


Alex Calwell, Auckland Council

Where you're based... I am based in Auckland working across the entire Auckland Council operated network of facilities.

Your aquatics background... I have been working in aquatics for 25 years starting as a lifeguard in the 1990s, I have also moonlighted as a swimming and fitness instructor. I worked my way up to managing aquatic operations first in Singapore where I ran a swim school and pool for a private club. On returning I made my way to Queenstown to help open Alpine Aqualand, on returning to Auckland I managed the Takapuna Pool and them moved to West Wave prior to taking on a more regional role.

Why you became a Poolsafe Assessor... I'm keen to contribute back to the aquatics industry and ensure that there is a consistent standard of operations that our communities can be confident in for their pools. I also hope to see how people are doing things better and learn from others up and down the country.

What you're most looking forward to as an assessor... Connecting with people and developing a strong network of passionate Aquatics people who really want to see their facilities and people grow.

Your hopes for the aquatics sector... I really want to see this sector be a leader in how to manage and operate complex facilities in a safe way that provides our communities with a great place to come together.


Cris Gepiga, Glen Innes YMCA

Where you're based... YMCA Glenn Innes, Auckland

Your aquatics background... I have always been involved in the aquatic sector mainly competitive swimming and triathlon. I have more than 10 years' experience in swim teaching, coaching and as a lifeguard. I eventually became a senior lifeguard and when the opportunity arose, I applied for the Pool Operations Managers' position and have been in this position for four years. I also eventually gained the qualification for Pool Lifeguard Assessor.

Why you became a Poolsafe Assessor... I want to learn about and know the best practices in the aquatic industry so I can I help implement and streamline other facilities to have safer swimming environment.

What you're most looking forward to as an assessor... I am looking forward to learning and gaining a lot of knowledge on how other facilities operate so I can improve our own at YMCA.

Your hopes for the aquatics sector... That all swimming pools in New Zealland have a standard operations procedure to follow to ensure a safer environment for all people to enjoy.


Andrew Smith, Whakatāne District


Where you're based... Whakatāne District, looking after pools in Whakatāne, Murupara and Edgecumbe.

Your aquatics background... I started lifeguarding in the UK at 16 and I have remained in aquatics ever since. I have run a number of large Leisure Centres in the UK and since moving to NZ I have been mainly in aquatics in the Bay of Plenty. I have a huge passion for continuous improvement and ensure the customer is put first. I have been in Whakatāne for the last year and excited to see the opportunities ahead.

Why you became a Poolsafe Assessor... I am continuously looking to share my knowledge and learn from others. We have some amazing facilities in NZ and being a Poolsafe Assessor allows me the opportunity to have a look at how different facilities operate.

What you're most looking forward to as an assessor... Looking at different facilities with a fresh pair of eyes. As we work day to day in our facilities we end up with blinkers on, which control what we see. Having someone new walking through, they are likely to spot things that we walk past every day.

Your hopes for the aquatics sector... That there is more recognition of the importance that the aquatic industry has on peoples wellbeing and mental health, and further support for the teams we have working in our facilities.

MoST Content Management V3.0.7998