The Swim Reaper campaign

Who or what is the Swim Reaper?

Water can turn deadly when people make bad calls in the water – The Swim Reaper is a reminder of this – danger lurks everywhere. He’s a character you definitely don’t want to meet and this campaign aims to make young people stop and think before they make bad decisions with potentially deadly consequences.

Most drownings are preventable if people think about water safety first. New Zealand averages around 75 preventable drowning deaths a year. The Swim Reaper campaign is designed to try and bring that number down by targeting an at risk group in an arresting and hard hitting way.

Where is the Swim Reaper?

The Swim Reaper is lurking at known high risk beaches, lakes, rivers and waterways in New Zealand, looking out for young people making bad decisions. Young people are specifically reached via geotargeted messages mostly on Instagram and other social channels. Signage is also strategically positioned at selected locations where a high incidence of drownings have occurred.

The Swim Reaper will not be between the flags or at safe family swimming spots. 

Why is Water Safety New Zealand running the Swim Reaper campaign?

On average, 33% of preventable drowning deaths are young males between the ages of 15-34.

The Swim Reaper is designed to remind young males that while it’s great to enjoy our beautiful swimming spots, making bad choices around water can have potentially deadly consequences.

How many New Zealanders die each year from drowning?

An average of 105 people lose their lives to drowning each year and 75 of those deaths are preventable. 

We don’t encourage bad behaviour and decisions around water

The Swim Reaper is a reminder to everyone that, while it’s great to enjoy our beautiful swimming spots, making bad choices around water can have very deadly consequences.

Who is behind this campaign?

The campaign is designed and run by Water Safety New Zealand with funding from ACC. Our organisations are working together to reduce the high number of young males who lose their lives or are injured in the water each year.






For enquiries about this website and campaign, contact Sheridan Bruce on 021 1928 708 or email


Swim dumb and you're done!


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