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News posted on Thursday 28th April, 2022

Para swimming classifier and swim coach Sandra Blewett recognised for outstanding service to Para sport in New Zealand

PNZ Chair Jana Rangooni presents PNZ Order of Merit to Sandra Blewett

Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) has awarded the PNZ Order of Merit to Sandra Blewett, MBE, for outstanding service to Paralympics New Zealand and Para sport in New Zealand. Sandra Blewett has been involved within Para sport in New Zealand for over 25 years in a variety of roles including:

  • NZ Para swimming classifier from 1996, to just recently in March 2022.
  • Executive Director for Parafed Auckland from 1998 to 2003.
  • Team Manager of the NZ team to the IPC World Swimming Championships in Mar De Plata in 1998.
  • Sandra organised the Welcome Home reception for Sydney 2000 Paralympians
  • Convenor of Selectors for the Para swimming team to the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games
  • PNZ Board member from 2001 to 2008.

Sandra is an advanced swimming instructor and coach for non-disabled and disabled swimmers, a role that she has been doing since 1971. She has coached Paralympians in their early days, in addition to other athletes, saying she prefers to get swimmers started on their swimming pathway and then pass them on to their next coach. She explains:

“People need to be taught the basics properly. If the basics are taught properly, it makes everything after that easier. I wanted to teach swimming at that early stage because when you see people realise that they can actually float and swim, watching their faces, it’s a delight.”

Sandra owns and operates the Sandra Blewett Learn to Swim School and is a swim coach for Parafed Auckland. She has dedicated most of her life to swimming, teaching, and coaching swimming, in particular for young disabled people and Para athletes.

The PNZ Order of Merit was announced at the PNZ Annual General Meeting held on Thursday. Sandra was presented her PNZ Order of Merit pin and certificate by Jana Rangooni, PNZ Chair at the Paralympics New Zealand offices in Auckland.

Speaking after the ceremony, Sandra Blewett said:

“I’m very honoured. Getting the PNZ Order of Merit is a big thrill for me. I just love working for all athletes, and especially those with disabilities. What I’ve done to help people get into sport, it’s something different. Being able to show everyone that they can achieve things. It’s a two-way thing. Firstly, learning life-saving skills which they will have for the rest of their lives. And secondly, to achieve excellence at their level – whether that’s on holiday with their family or representing New Zealand at the Paralympic Games.”

Established in 2001, the PNZ Order of Merit has been awarded to 30 individuals.

Sandra Blewett with her PNZ Order of Merit certificate and pin

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