Teenaged leaders advocate for progress in swimming at Youth Leadership Camp

24 January 2023
2023 Swimming NSW Youth Leadership Camp Vision Valley Arcadia

60 new teenaged leaders have returned to their home swimming clubs across NSW and the ACT with fresh skills that will help them to make a difference to the longevity of our sport.

The Swimming NSW Youth Leadership Camp was held from Saturday, 14 to Monday, 16 January, 2023 at Vision Valley in Arcadia, north-west of Sydney. An initiative of the Swimming NSW Youth Advisory Panel (YAP), the annual Youth Leadership Camp brings teenaged swimmers together to learn how to advocate for progress in our sport, and to develop skills that translate to life after competitive swimming. 

Camp participants were all aged between 13 to 18 years, with male and female attendees equally represented from Country areas, Metro areas and the ACT.

Selection for the Swimming NSW Youth Leadership Camp was based on how nominees answered the question “what is one thing you’d change about swimming to make it better and more engaging for teenagers?”

The YAP Camp kicked off on Saturday, 14 January, with ice breaker games, canoeing, raft building, and crate stacking, and an initiatives course to help athletes get to know each other and learn how to work together.

"By dinner time on the first day, they were already firm friends," said Sarah Koen, Swimming NSW Sport Development & Participation  Manager. "Judging by the chatting and laughter, we knew it was going to be a fantastic weekend!"

Outdoor adventure activities were complimented by educational sessions with a practical component. Leadership-focussed topics such as time management, communication and public speaking were well-received, along with information sessions from the Duke of Ed Award Program, the Body Confident Collective, and Local Member for Hornsby and NSW Treasurer, Matt Kean.

GT Aquatics SC representative Patrick Bullivant said the presentations were “very educational and engaging. They inspired me to go out of the camp and make change in my swimming community.”

Thanks to NSW Government funding through the Mental Health in Sport Grant, we were also able to focus on Swim Confident: Swimming NSW's new body image wellness program. Camp participants developed their own body image ‘change maker’ projects for their home clubs.

Young leaders also learned how to structure a fun and engaging come and try day using resources from the Take Your Marks member recruitment and retention program.

“I enjoyed the Take Your Marks activity,” said Mia Ryan from Barker Aquatic SC. “I feel like I can make a difference in my club, and can encourage younger athletes to get into racing.”

If you were lucky enough to have one of your members attend this camp, please chat with them, find out what they learnt, and help them to implement their new knowledge at your club.

You can find out more about the Swimming NSW Youth Advisory Panel here.

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