Sporting skills for life

Getting kids involved in sport is a great way to enrich their lives and your own says Tracy Swan, mother-of-four and enthusiastic gymnastics supporter.


Tracy took her youngest son Travis along to gymnastics to burn off some energy when he was a busy five-year-old. Eleven years on, and Travis is the highest-ranked male gymnast in the Aorangi region, and has represented the region at the NZ nationals.

Tracy had no involvement in gymnastics before she took Travis to the Waimate High School gym recreational sessions. She’s put in the hard yards supporting his drive to achieve, and has gained her own qualifications in judging men’s gymnastics.

“The main benefits from the sport is the physical fitness you achieve, the mental toughness and discipline and good time management skills. The kids tend to be quite driven in all aspects of their life as they learn self discipline early on.”

Travis trains for nine hours each week to give himself the best chance of reaching his goals.

He says the challenges for his sport are more mental than physical.

“Let’s say you’ve had a bad day, and have to go to training. You just don't feel like doing anything but you are there to train, so that’s what you do.

“Also when you’re learning a new skill, if you are worried about the outcome of doing it wrong you start to try and talk yourself out of it - this is a hard thing to overcome and work through, but it all pays off in the end.”

He says the strength and fitness gained has help him manage and overcome having asthma as well.

If you are keen to get your kids involved Tracy recommends coming along to a recreation session on Mondays at the Waimate High School gym at 3:30pm. Competitive gymnasts are selected from those who show promise at recreation. Travis was selected six months after starting recreational gym.

Tracy says that for recreation gym, all the kids need is comfy clothing and the right attitude. Fees are $55 a term, for one hour a week.

There are additional fees for competitive or squad gym, and competitions. The gym competition season runs from June to October, with four to six events from Nelson to Balclutha - but mainly held in Christchurch and Dunedin.

Tracy’s advice to young people is to try to do your best every day and treat others well, and help where you can.

“The fun side for parents is watching all these wonderful children improve - it’s quite different from other sports, and you get to travel a lot and meet a lot of new people.”

Travis’s motto is worth sharing far and wide: “You will only fail when you stop trying.”

Favourite thing about Waimate District:

The friendly people and the quietness.

Favourite places in Waimate District:

The waterfall on the walking tracks through the Waimate Gorge, plus Kelceys Bush, Knottingley Park, and Victoria Park.

Favourite bite to eat:

For Travis, it’s hot chips from the Rainbow Dairy!

Waimate Gymnastics Club contacts:

Tracy Swan, President 027 280 4895
Justine Sceglinskas, Secretary 021 347 447
Megan Holland Treasurer, 027 689 6424

Kate O'Connell