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Swimmer Diary - A Story of Health and Inspiration

David Gerrard Shares His Inspiring Story and why he continues to swim

David Gerrard (Dr Dave) is one of New Zealand's leading sports medicine specialists, champion swimmer, olympic and commonwealth games sector and was chef de mission for the New Zealand Team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Winning gold in the 1966 games in the 200-yard butterfly at Kingston and bronze in the medley relay. Dr Dave has decicated his life to swimming turning a passion into a career. Continuing to educate kiwis on the importance of swimming helping guide them to unlock their greatness.

Dr Dave’s passion for swimming comes from both a personal and a medical standpoint. He believes that swimming is an essential tool for life and that everyone should learn to swim. Ever since being introduced to swimming as part of his education curriculum his love for the water has continued to flourish. 

“I learned to swim because it was part of the school curriculum, it was something I developed an instantaneous attraction to, and quite frankly I have never really stopped... My love of the water is just as strong”

 As a doctor himself,  Dave knows too well all the amazing health and well-being benefits that swimming provides. Continuing to swim long after his competitive career, he not only continues to reap the benefits of swimming but also continues to encourage patients of all ages to swim regularly.

“There's nothing magical here - swimming is a non-weight-bearing activity that works all our major muscle groups while maintaining cardio-respiratory capacity for as long as we wish to engage. As a doctor, I have commonly encouraged patients of all ages to swim regularly for the many, well-documented health benefits”

Dr Dave also knows how important swimming is for recovery and those among the older generations.

“Swimming also works well as a post-op exercise option, especially post-orthopaedic surgery, where joints need the strength of the surrounding muscles. Aging joints can be exercised in the weightlessness of the pool without provoking further damage to joint surfaces.”

Swimming has enabled him to stay on top of his health. Dr Dave’s ability to swim regularly helps him maintain a healthy happy lifestyle. 

“I am able to keep my weight under relative control... and following a brush with cardiovascular disease, my blood pressure stays within normal limits and my cardiac health is maintained. I'm also needing far less medication”

Dr Dave is also devoted to getting across to Kiwis that It’s never too late to learn the lifesaving skill of swimming—volunteering his free time to this cause. 

“It's sad when someone confesses a fear of the water and no swimming ability. Recently I have begun helping at our local pool with adult learn-to-swim classes” 

This crucial life skill of swimming has not only benefited Dave’s health, but has also meant that he has been able to create lifelong memories. He spends his free time in the water with his grandchildren bonding over the shared joy of the water. 

“Being a competent swimmer has enabled my participation in other activities such as surfing and open water events... now I surf with my grandsons. And that is not only a blast but a real privilege”

Knowing all too well the amazing benefits of being active in the water Dr Dave tries to swim at least three times a week.  He would like to say that he wasn’t ‘completive’ yet he still finds himself racing with others in the pool surrounding him.

“Although I'm in close company with a bunch of enthusiastic masters swimmers who constantly invite me to join them, I'd rather do my own thing at my own pace... despite the fact, I'm always watching them underwater and often race them over the final 25m of their repeat 100s.”

Swimming has enabled Dr Dave to travel the world and witness some of New Zealand’s most amazing sporting performances. Being a positive influence within the World Aquatic Sports Medicine Committee continuing to educate on a global scale. 

“Having been a competitive swimmer I can understand the pressures at the elite international level. Over that time, I've been lucky enough to witness some incredible performances - often including New Zealand's best aquatic athletes”

Even with all these amazing opportunities and achievements that swimming has brought, being on top of his health is one of his proudest achievements. No matter how big or small, he continues to find free time to swim.

“Today I still enjoy catching waves at the beach to swimming lengths in a pool... but the latter keeps me fit enough to enjoy the former”

A special thanks to Dr Dave for sharing his story. An amazing individual to look up to, who continues to give back to swimming and the wider community. The benefits are endless! There is no time like the present to Unlock Your Greatness and Get Swimming New Zealand. 

If you would like to share your story about why you love swimming, please email Kayla at

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