We are losing members from our sport. A significant portion of our members leave at age 13, then we experience another significant drop off at age 16.
Swimming NSW is committed to improving swimming for young people and retaining them as members. Most importantly, we want our members to enjoy swimming as part of a healthy lifestyle for the long term.
How do we keep teenaged swimmers invovled in swimming? That's for our youth to tell us.
Lane Ropes to Leadership & Youth Advisory Panel
In June 2016, we launched a pilot program for 13-18 years old swimmers called Lane Ropes to Leadership. The goal of Lane Ropes to Leadership was to establish a Swimming NSW Youth Advisory Panel (YAP). The role of this panel is to discuss current issues related to swimming, and to develop ideas on how to improve the current state of swimming in NSW. The Swimming NSW Board and staff are committed to implementing the best ideas generated by this panel.
What were we looking for in our Lane Ropes to Leadership candidates?
We accepted online nominations from swimmers aged between 13 and 18 years, who have a genuine vested interest in improving their sport. For the pilot program, nominations were open to Sydney metro-area swimmers, however we hope to extend the successful program across NSW. Nominees:
- may have already been in a leadership role at school
- may also participate in other sports
- may or may not have a dwindling interest in swimming and training competitively
- can represent either a social or competitive club
- will have an enthusiasm for sports participation in general
- will have a desire for lifelong involvement in physical activity
- may have an interest in working in sports management/administration
We also favoured applications that were written by the swimmers themselves instead of applications sent in by parents on behalf of swimmers.
Lane Ropes to Leadership program
The Lane Ropes to Leadership pilot program began with 24 selected swimmers attending a Youth Leadership Program delivered by Toastmasters. Toastmasters courses were held at Granville, Hornsby and Marrickville.
At the completion of this course, swimmers learned how to:
- deal with nervousness and anxiety related to public speaking
- present ideas logically and convincingly
- speak clearly to an audience
- listen carefully to others and provide constructive feedback in a group discussion
- provide leadership in a group setting (including learning how to chair a meeting)
- be aware of body language and use of gestures in face to face communication
These skills are invaluable, especially for those who will be interviewed for job or university applications in future. This course also prepared our Lane Ropes to Leadership swimmers to sit on a panel, present ideas clearly, listen attentively and respond with courtesy to others.
Selecting the first Swimming NSW Youth Advisory Panel
Lane Ropes to Leadership swimmers applied to sit on the YAP by submitting a two-minute digital story. In their application, swimmers told us what they would do to improve swimming for young people at their club.
18 swimmers were selected for our first Youth Advisory Panel (YAP), which was split into two working parties.
Congratulations to our panel members:
Grace Alibrandi (Revesby Workers)
Darcy Andrews (The Hills)
Kayla Bentley (Nepean Aquatic Centre)
Hailey Blatchford (Sans Souci Sea Devils)
Walter Boehme (Ku-Ring-Gai)
Chelsea Brackin (SOPAC)
Alec Conway (Castle Hill RSL Dolphins)
Abbey Cooper (Galston)
John Cosgrove (Hornsby)
Georgia Field (Ripples St Marys)
Jessica Hardy (Parramatta City)
Isabella Jobling (MLC Marlins)
Stephanie Lees (Picton)
Hannah Oliver-Sjahry (SOPAC)
Maddison Robertshaw (Aquaburn)
Emily Swinburn (University of NSW)
Reece Tomkinson (Merrylands)
Coco Welsh (Tivoli)
Youth Advisory Panel meetings
The YAP has met three times so far (as of April 2017), and will continue to meet monthly.
At YAP meetings, panel members have focused on planning events that will engage swimmers aged 12-19. Event themes, locations, formats and bookings have been completely driven by our panel.
Youth Advisory Panel projects
SNSW Youth Advisory Panel - Facebook Page (@SNSWYAP)
Moderated by Swimming NSW and two YAP members, this page is open to join, and is a place for positive discussion/suggestions about the future of swimming in NSW for young swimmers.
Twilight Race Party
A Sydney metro-based swimming carnival that is organised by teenagers, specifically for teenagers. It is designed to encourage non-members to return to the sport even if just for one meet. It will be on a Saturday evening from 4:30pm – 8:30pm in summer (February). The focus is on fun, short, sharp races and relays, and then novelty races and free time with friends afterwards.
Lane Ropes to Leadership Youth Camp
The Lane Ropes to Leadership Camp is open to 12-16 year olds from all over NSW. Participants will need to nominate and be selected to attend. The weekend-long camp will include leadership, event management, technical official and coaching workshops, as well as fun team bonding activities. The aim is to upskill teenagers so that they can make improvements at their home club and be incentivised to stay in the sport for longer either as a swimmer or in another capacity.