Swimming Western Australia, one of the leading sporting organizations in Western Australia, held its annual conference this weekend, where guest speaker Swimming Queensland CEO Kevin Hasemann presented a ‘state of the union’ of sorts on the not-for-profit organization’ status.
Swimming WA consists of 83 clubs and more than 9300 registered swimmers, including Nanjing Youth Olympics bronze medalist Brianna Throssell from Perth City Swimming Club and Tamsin Cook from West Coast Swimming Club. Its vision is “to ensure that swimming is an essential part of the Western Australian Life” and the evaluation of this goal from over the past year, as well as a planning session for the future was incorporated into the conference.
Key snippets from Hasemann’s speech lends insight into the overall state of Australian Swimming and, to some extent, the sport in general. According to Hasemann, “the real crisis [in Australian Swimming] isn’t that we only got one gold medal in London, it’s that our membership is declining and so is our revenue; it all starts there.”
Hasemann stated that he “wants to target 7-year-old swimmers now, in order to build our potential for the 2028 Olympics” and stresses the theme of ‘fun’ as a core tenet of securing the sport’s future. Today’s coaching and mentoring emphasis “needs to be on skill, technique, fun” as opposed to overworking kids said Hasemann. His rhetorical question of ‘Why are we working kids so hard?” seemingly challenges the traditional approach to training within the sport, stressing that “we need to take care of our ‘thoroughbred’ swimmers so they retain their enjoyment.”
Swimming WA’s annual report for 2014/15 indicates that the organization has established a new vision and Strategic Plan for 2015-18, which is aimed at growing not only its competitive swimmer-base, but by striving to be “more inclusive, accessible and engaging with the broader community, ranging from learn-to-swim programs through masters Swimming.