Water Safety New Zealand says the Ministry of Education needs to improve the way children are taught to swim, or risk more drownings.
Water Safety New Zealand says new research predicts drownings will increase to 180 deaths a year by 2030 because not enough children are learning to swim at school.
It says hundreds of school pools have closed in the past five years mostly due to funding shortfalls, and one quarter of Year 6 students now cannot tread water or swim 25 metres.
The Ministry of Education says three quarters of schools are funded to maintain a pool.
But Water Safety New Zealand and the primary teachers union, the NZEI, say school operational grants are the only funding source and are often too tightly stretched.