This week Swimming NSW is proud to celebrate National Volunteer Week 2023 (15-21 May 2023) - a timely reminder of the critical role volunteers play in the delivery of sport in Australia. With almost 3 million individuals volunteering in sport annually, many sports would struggle to survive without them.
Swimming NSW CEO Kirsten Thomson OLY recognises and thanks the many volunteers who put their hands up every day to ensure the smooth running of our clubs, the execution of our events, and everything in between.
“We know that much of what we do just would not be possible without our army of incredibly dedicated and passionate volunteers who generously and willingly give up their time to support their communities,” said Ms Thomson.
“They are the backbone of our swim clubs. This week is a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on these unsung heroes – many of whom go about their business without any fuss or expectation of accolades. This is just part of what makes them such valued and respected members of our sport and communities. Please join us in celebrating these amazing humans!”
Swimming NSW has put the call out and is honoured to profile just some of the volunteers who help to keep our sport afloat.
Name: Isaak Wilson
Club: Wollongong Swim Club
Isaak is an accredited technical official and referee, assisting with club nights, area meets and the summer and winter area championships. He is also Wollongong Swim Club’s Registrar.
As a former swimmer at the club, volunteering is a great way for Isaak to maintain his connection with the swimming community and to share his passion for the sport with future generations of swimmers. He loves being able to give back to the sport that gave him so much as a swimmer and witnessing swimmers achieving their goals and enjoying their swimming. He also enjoys being able to tailor memberships to meet the diverse needs of swimmers and their families to ensure they have positive experiences and remain in the sport.
“I enjoy volunteering as I have established such great friendships from all over the state and country. By travelling far and wide, I continue to develop new and existing friendships within the sport. This continues to be just one of the reasons why I enjoy volunteering as it further establishes a positive environment and culture within the sport.
“Outside of swimming, I enjoy coaching the surf club athletes, triathletes and marathon swimmers which are a part of the squad that I am surrounded by during the week. Despite the early mornings and late evenings, it is a rewarding job where I can impart the knowledge that I learnt from being in the sport for over 10 years. This is not to mention the Learn to Swim classes where I teach the foundational skills for survival and competitive swimming. Away from the pool, I enjoy watching all types of sport, catching up with family and friends, cooking and most of all, travelling and visiting places in Australia and around the world.”
Name: Wendy Wooden
Club/Area: Lockhart ASC
Currently the coach of the senior group of swimmers at her club (aged 10-14 years), Wendy started teaching Learn to Swim classes around 50 years ago and later started coaching once her children joined the swim club.
One of her favourite things about volunteering is watching the swimmers grow and reach their goals.
“I enjoy seeing the children improving their skills and the excitement they get when they achieve their goals. We have a great group of parents and children which makes it very easy to enjoy coaching.”
Wendy also coaches the C-Grade girls netball team at the Lockhart Netball Club and is currently being challenged as she learns how to play golf.
Name/s: Warren, Alex and Zara Phillips – the Phillips Family
Club: Port Macquarie Swimming Club
Warren, Alex and Zara Phillips are a volunteering family!
Warren and Alex first started volunteering when their eldest daughter began swimming. Alex is now a life member of the Port Macquarie Swimming Club, the Club Treasurer, qualified MM Operator and Operator of A.O.E, Check Starter and Marshall. Warren is also a club life member, the Club President and level 1 Referee. With both parents (and an older sister) taking on volunteering roles over the course of their swimming journey, Zara naturally followed suit. She still swims competitively while administering her TO duties!
“Over the years I have made a lot of friends and through these friends I have learnt a lot about swimming and officiating at meets.
“I have enjoyed seeing the progression of the children from first starting at the swimming club through to when they compete at their first meet, win their first medal and gain their first State Championship time.”
“Over the years I have made wonderful friendships not only in our area but all over the state.
“I have enjoyed watching the children start at club nights and then progress through to local area meets, improving all their strokes from Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Butterfly (either you love it or hate it), obtaining PB’s and then eventually acquiring their state times and national times.”
“As my parents and older sister volunteered at swimming meets, it was a natural progression to gain swimming accreditations. For swimming to continue, we need volunteers at every meet to help. Becoming a volunteer and an official at meets has given me more confidence as an adult.
“I have also, volunteered at the Port Macquarie Gymnastics Club, and have obtained an Intermediate Gymnastics Coach. This has also given me the opportunity to make new friends and to grow as an adult.”
Name: Narelle Burke
Club: Tamworth City Swimming Club
Narelle is currently the Treasurer of the Tamworth City Swimming Club. She is also the ATSCC for the NE & NW area and both she and her husband are life members of the club.
Narelle began her volunteering journey as Carnival Secretary when her children began swimming in 1993. Since then, she has volunteered in the following roles: Child Protection Officer, Treasurer, Vice President, and President. Narelle is also a trained referee and has been refereeing since 2004.
“I love volunteering, as I love to see the swimmers achieve their goals, and by my volunteering I feel I can contribute to this. I don’t have any children swimming anymore, but still love to give my time for today’s swimmers.”
Narelle’s volunteering is not limited to swimming. She has volunteered in cricket, soccer, and at her children’s schools (in board chair and president positions). Additionally, she has held state chair and executive positions on education councils and is currently volunteering on a local council committee. Phew!
Outside of her very full volunteering schedule, she still manages to find the time to run a farming business with her husband.
“My husband and I run a farming business which keeps me very busy. I love spending time with family and grandchildren and I love my gardening. I enjoy dressmaking and run a local guild group. I like to help out and can’t say no to a request!”
Name: Jenny Griffiths
Club/Area: Nyngan ASC
Jenny is currently a coach at Nyngan and runs squads several mornings and afternoons a week during the summer months. She also helps out on club nights and the annual carnival with timekeeping and Meet Manager.
Jenny says she loves being part of a fantastic sport that teaches kids so much, like being your best.
“I started coaching around 15 years ago when my kids were swimming. Our club coach left the town and there was no one licensed to coach a group of eager kids. A group of mums did the coaching course and I’ve kept coming back each season since, long after my kids stopped training.”
Jenny also lends her time to the local CanAssist organisation, which supports local people with cancer. And, when she’s not volunteering, Jenny enjoys watching sports – especially swimming – cooking, spending time with family and friends, and walking her two dogs, Barry and Muppet.
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