The team that keeps swimming club afloat
Since the Prime Minister unveiled plans for his roadmap out of lockdown, organisations like Keynsham Amateur Swimming Club have been looking forward to a return in April.
Until then Keynsham will continue with its Zoom schedule of cooking, coach catch-ups and land training.
With swimming on hold for another five weeks, this month we’ll take a look behind-the-scenes to see how an amateur swimming club runs, and focus on some of the roles that are integral to its smooth running.
Keynsham has a team of more than 20 coaches, assistant coaches and trainee coaches, most of whom are volunteers.
Each squad has a head coach who, when not poolside, is at home planning sets and thinking about how to enable each swimmer to achieve their full potential - the ethos that Keynsham Amateur Swimming Club is based on.
Coaches come from a range of backgrounds - those who swam previously with the club, those who swam when younger, or parents of current swimmers.
Keynsham is run by a committee, whose members include a chairperson,
vice-chairperson, club secretary, treasurer, swimming secretary, membership secretary, meet manager, social secretary, coach liaison officer, lead Covid officer, volunteer co-ordinator, communications and marketing manager, and Swim Mark co-ordinator.
Everyone on the committee either has or had a swimmer who swam with Keynsham. The committee meets monthly, usually with tea and snacks but currently with a laptop and an intermittent wi-fi connection.
They make decisions on behalf of the club and take on duties to ensure everything runs smoothly. Its purpose is to serve the club members. This means you need the right people with the right skills, the right experience and lots of enthusiasm.
Every swimming club has a welfare officer. Keynsham is lucky to have two people who share the post.
The welfare officer’s role is essential in providing a first point of contact for children, parents and adults within the club who have a child safeguarding or welfare concern.
Our welfare team have been especially busy over the last year carrying out many risk assessments to ensure Keynsham operate within Covid-19 guidance set out by Swim England and the pool providers.
Keynsham has many poolside helpers to assist the coaching team. A poolside helper supports the delivery of club sessions under the supervision of a qualified teacher or coach.
You need to be over 14 years old, and many of Keynsham’s poolside helpers are the club’s top swimmers, who give back by helping out with the younger squads. Quite often it is an excellent way of gaining a Duke of Edinburgh award.
Some of the helpers are parents who just want to become involved. Many then go on to take a coaching course or two.
Since the return to the water last year during the pandemic, some pool operators have been asking swimming clubs to provide their own lifeguards during sessions. This is an essential volunteer role - without a lifeguard, no swimming can go ahead.
New to the line-up of what makes a swimming club work are the Covid reps. Their role is to ensure that Covid-19 guidelines are followed, to keep a lane register and check the temperatures of all club members going poolside at arrival.
When there is competitive swimming, each club is expected to provide officials to support the meets. Officials are all volunteers, and the entry point to becoming a swimming official is as a timekeeper.
Then there are various levels of judges who check that each swim is within the rules, of which there are very many. You can be disqualified just for having a hair band on your wrist! Other key official roles include starter and referee.
Additional supporting roles
There are many other volunteer roles that sometimes get overlooked yet are essential in the running of the club and take up a fair amount of time. Those could be organising kit sales, fundraising, team manager, meet marshalling or helping at the front of house at swim galas, meet runners or squad secretaries. There really is a role for everyone, both young and old.
After weeks of waiting, Laura B (11 years) has received the bronze medal she was awarded in January for her incredible third place in 100m butterfly on the national leader board for Level-X Series 1.
Jasper Lye, regional squad head coach, said: “This is the result of dedication and hard work, a talented young swimmer who will undoubtedly progress further as the season goes on.
“Laura is a part of Keynsham’s growing regional squad and I anticipate many other swimmers achieving similar results.”