Presented at the Organisation’s AGM on 5th November 2016

Introduction

Please find below the annual President’s Report for Wett Ones Swimming Club. A little over a year ago I sent an email out to the club detailing where I believed the club should focus its efforts for the year – there were five key points to that plan: sustainable growth, improved engagement between the committee and members, increased visibility, a larger more fun carnival, and an improved budgeting process.

I am pleased to report that the club has made progress in many of these areas, as I hope you will find reflected in the body of this report and through your experiences this year. There is though still so much work to do in order to continue to build a club that will be successful to 2020 and beyond.

Firstly, this year we have invested a lot into working on our core purpose – swimming! We began the year with a very successful swim camp at AIS in Canberra, and we have followed that up throughout the year with regular workshop sessions with guest coaches. Talking of coaches, we welcomed a new coach onto the team meaning there are now two coaches on deck on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout the year.

This year we have worked on engagement through a member’s survey, a monthly president’s update, and a club strategy setting session. The committee has appreciated the higher degree of feedback from the members and we encourage you all to keep telling us what you want from the club.

In terms of growth we have not managed to increase our member numbers from last year, in fact we have seen a notable drop in regular swimmers at Sydney Uni and this has led to budgetary loss for the year. We need to make this a focus for next year. Importantly though, we do now have much better financial planning and budgeting which gives me confidence that we can turn around our financial position in the coming years.

I have tried to detail the main events in the life of Wett Ones this year within the following report which will give you an overview of our current position and future plans. This club would not continue to function without the hard work of the committee and coaches, so thank you to them. Thanks also to generous sponsors and donors who help to secure the ongoing success of the club.

Committee 2015 – 2016

The following club members have given up their time in order run the club this year:

President - Tristan Bray

Secretary - Bart Tuteleers

Treasurer - Craig Ellis

Registrar and Race Secretary - Vassili Efimov

Female Swimmers Representative - Tracey Clay

Male Swimmers Representative - Joe Liu

Safety Officer - Mi Weekes

PR and Fundraising - Cecily Black

ABC Coordinator - Bob Nagal

Social Media / Online - Wendje Magnus

Non-portfolio - Nick Ward

Thank you everyone for your contributions throughout the year!

Membership 2015 – 2016

Overall, the club consisted of 93 members as of 22nd October 2016.

Total Membership

The number of total club members has remained reasonably constant over the past 5 years, apart from 2014 which we have attributed to the successful Darwin OutGames. While this number is healthy, we do know that less than half of members swim regularly. Since the club loses the majority of annual membership fees to Masters Swimming, we need to encourage regular swimming of our members (or more total members) to help us become sustainable without fundraising.

The club has always struggled to achieve gender parity, despite our current numbers being a big improvement on where the club used to be – we still have work to do to build our female membership.

% Women

The club’s age distribution has classically been a normal distribution about the average of 45 years old. This has slipped slightly upward this year as our members ‘age up’. 

Age Group Split

Treasury

The club has finished the year with an approximate $1400 loss from last year’s closing position. While the club had always budgeted for a small loss this year given the decision of the membership not to conduct a fundraising BBQ, this loss is worse than expected.

The club received a $1000 grant from the state government for our 25th Anniversary Carnival, and we would like to extend a sincere thank you our generous sponsors, and the members who contributed to our fundraising efforts through the year.

We believe that this closing position is primarily due to a reduction in swimming fees. We note that there has been approximately $3,700 less collected over the course of the year.

The club still has sufficient cash reserves to ensure ongoing operations but we must take action to ensure that we reverse the trend of making year on year losses.

As always, the club is pleased to invest the income we have from swimmers fees, membership fees, sponsors and fundraising back into our club. We do this by supporting club activities and reducing costs wherever possible for our members, some examples of which are:

  • covering the Wett Ones Carnival registration fee for all Wett Ones members
  • participation at Mardi Gras Fair Day
  • subsidising CPR training for our coaches
  • providing food and gifts for the AGM, and our Carnival
  • subsidising club swim wear, t-shirts etc (5$ to 10$ per article)
  • subsidising special masterclasses and workshops for stroke correction
  • increasing the number of coaches on deck
  • ensuring we run five sessions per week throughout year (regardless of numbers)
  • covering ancillary costs for club social events

Safety

The club began the year with no elected safety officer. In March, Mi Weekes put herself forward to take up the position.

There were several minor safety incidents this year. All of these incidents were dealt with promptly by our coaches and the pool staff.

The only repeat incidents were as a result of hand clashes between swimmers. Tristan met with pool and swim school management on three occasions to (among several things) attempt to reduce the risk of hand clashes and raise the priority of lane rope tightening/replacement. There will always be a risk of minor incidents in our sport, but the swim school no longer uses hand paddles on our swimming nights and pool staff are more aware of the issue of slack lane ropes.

Coaching at Sydney University

We would like to extend our thanks to our five coaches who have given their time, skills, and knowledge of our sport to the club this year: Danny Crowe, Catherine Rogers, Peter McGee, Vassili Efimov, and - new to the team – Janet Bolton.

Having five coaches means that we can have two coaches on deck on each of our busiest days (Monday and Wednesday), allowing swimmers to have more attention and contact time. This is particularly beneficial for our Lane 8 swimmers.

The coaching programme during 2015-2016 was split into long course and short course seasons as has been customary for several years. Each season’s coaching was geared to working towards a target swim meet – our own carnival in May and the state championships in October.

The long course season this year was also marked by addition of the Proud to Play Games in Auckland, this necessitated a ‘double-dip’ season, this was handled extremely well by Danny and the team and lead to some amazing results during that part of the year.

During the 2015-2016 season, we also had three masterclass sessions which were particularly focused on improving swimming technique:

  • Breaststroke by Mark Holmes
  • Backstroke by Brian Sutton
  • Butterfly by Brian Sutton

Thanks to Mark and Brian for their involvement and thanks to Janet and Peter for organising.

Saturday Mornings – ABC & CPP

Saturday mornings have proven to be popular as always this year. The swimmers fees from Saturdays are approximately the same this year as last year. This is thanks to Bob Nagal for his organisation, and all of you who post your beautiful pictures of Andrew Boy Charlton pool.

The new summer season has just recently started and Wett Ones have once again confirmed and booked two lanes at ABC pool for October to April as usual.

This year for the first time we successfully continued our Saturday swimming sessions throughout the winter also by booking two short course lanes at Cook and Phillip Pool. While these sessions had lower attendance than we get during the summer (also true for Sydney Uni by the way) they still generated enough income in swimmers fees to pay for themselves.

Having the option of a Saturday session all year round has been well received by members, and the Cook and Phillip sessions generated a small but loyal following. Next year if we wish to continue these sessions we will need a dedicated C&P coordinator (as Bob does for ABC).

Our Sponsors

Wett Ones needs funds to operate, and our regular income from annual memberships and swimmers fees does not cover all of our costs. Fortunately, Cecily Black has managed to develop a list of sponsors and donors who contribute either funds or products which help the club to continue to operate successfully.

The club would like to extend a huge thank you to all of our generous sponsors for their contributions. We are extremely grateful for their support. Our sponsors include:

  • Dentistry at the Cross
  • George Skoufis, Optometrist
  • Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre
  • Gelworks
  • Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool
  • Poolside Cafe at Andrew (Boy) Charlton
  • Royal Hotel Darlinghurst
  • Dendy Cinemas
  • Anibou
  • David's Cellars

Masters Swimming

Wett Ones is one of forty-eight masters swimming clubs in NSW and ACT. This year swimmer attendance at carnivals has reduced – which is something we need to look at in the coming year. With that said our members attended the following swim meets this year:

ACT Meet, Blacktown, Campbelltown, Cessnock, Ettalong, Hills, Manly, National Titles, NSW LC and SC Championships, Ryde, Seaside Pirates, Warringah, Lake Macquarie, NSW Long Distance Meet, and our own carnival. Plus, we sent a large contingent to Auckland for the Proud to Play games.

At the time of writing, the club has scored 1,396 points, placing us 3rd in the second division.

Swimmers from our club have produced some great performances in the water this year. Find below the list of club members who have placed in the national top ten for their age/gender grouping:

Rachelle Ting (1st - 800 and 1,500 free SC), Tracey Clay, Annie Sheerin, Masaki Shibata, Tristan Bray (1st - 400 back SC), Chris Saxby (3rd - 100 back SC), Chris Healey, Pascal Blanquer, Andrew Leese, Haydn Wood (3rd - 50 free SC), Damon Kendrick (1st - 1,500 free LC and 400, 800 and 1,500 free SC), Peter McGee (1st - 400 fly SC), Mark Holmes (3rd - 200 breast SC), Nori Fujikawa, Bart Tuteleers (1st - 400 and 800 breast SC), Wayne Sherson (1st - 800, 1,500 and 30 min free SC), Brad Cherrie.

On top of our national top ten finishers we have a number of swimmers who are ranked in NSW:

Anna Griffin, Michelle Daley, Megan McLachlan, Mi Weekes, Kari Baynes, Josephine Donnolley, David Busuttil, Sam Isaacs, Timothy Buckton, Joe Liu, Oscar Perez-Concha, Ryan Bennett, Christophe Arnaud, Sean Coulson, Vassili Efimov, Nick Ward, Adrian Lim.

You will note in this list that there are a number of long distance events in which the club is very highly ranked. This is no small part thanks to the initiative of Wayne Sherson who with the help of Peter organised long distance timed aerobic swims each Sunday of the short course season. This was a great way to test our endurance and get a number of swimmers into the national rankings.

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The Wett Ones Carnival & Dinner

As has become tradition, Wett Ones hosted our own annual swim meet in May. This year Mark Holmes volunteered himself for the meet director position – the club would like to extend our thanks to him for his hard work to pull off another extremely well received meet.

Wett Ones once again waived the entry fee to our meet for all of our own members who wished to participate – resulting in 33 Wett Ones swimmers taking part. In all we welcomed 143 swimmers to our pool, which is a 10% increase on last year’s total.

The financial aspect of the swim meet is an important one as the carnival is our single largest expenditure each year, and consequently has the most risk associated with it. The increase in the number of swimmers contributed to the improved financials of the meet. Additionally, over the past few years the club has taken moves to cut the cost of the meet (no longer outsourcing meet recording for example) which is now resulting in a lower cost meet for us to run. Finally, thanks to the input of a number of members the club was able to claim a one-off state government community funding grant of $1000. These factors combined to result in a profitable meet for the club, leaving us with a surplus of nearly $500.

This year we also slightly changed the order of events and shortened the programme by removing the 200m freestyle. While there were a few comments from missing the dropped event, the overwhelming response was that the slightly shorter day was appreciated. Additionally, we held a novelty ‘wear a dress’ relay at the end of the meet, which provided some hilarious images and was even welcomed by our Masters Swimming friends as a good way to end the meet on a high note.

Following the carnival, this year we held our annual celebratory dinner at a new venue – Baja Cantina in Glebe. While it was a bit of a tight squeeze as there were sixty (!) of us – a fantastic turnout by anyone’s standards – the meal was well received and extremely good fun.

Wett Ones Swim Camp

Wett Ones has always been about building swimming skills, fitness, and confidence, as well as building friendships. At the start of the year we hosted a two-day Swim Camp at the excellent facilities at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.

The swimming camp included four coached sessions in the water building base skills through drills and technique work, one dry land session, a tour of the campus, and the opportunity to meet two national level swimmers.

The AIS was chosen as it has all the facilities including providing meals and accommodation in one place and to be organised through one contact meaning the work to make the weekend happen was relatively painless – something to bear in mind should we do another!

The response to the camp from participants was excellent, with everyone taking something away that helped their swimming and enjoying the ‘team bonding’ aspect of the weekend also.

Members Survey

Early in the year we conducted an online survey of our members to which we received 52 unique responses which the committee consider be a good response rate (over 70% of the members at the time). This survey asked questions of the members in order to try to better understand your wants and needs, and what you would like the committee to focus on over the course of the year (and what not to focus on).

We gained a more in depth understanding of those members who are most engaged with the club and their demographics (mostly 35-64, >70% male, swim at Sydney University two to three times a week).

We found that our members swim with the club for a diverse range of reasons, some for the social aspect, some for fitness, and a smaller number for competition, and we found that the majority of our members have some form of goal or target (be it time to beat or event to take part in).

Our swimmers enjoy our mixed coaching approach which allows for development of all four strokes and changes between technique/drills and harder swimming for fitness as the seasons progress (but people clearly like swimming freestyle more than anything else!). In terms of finances our swimmers told us

that they would be willing to pay more on an annual basis, that they are happy with the current fee per swim, but that they would prefer not to do fundraising activities.

We discovered much more besides this which was analysed by Tristan in a detailed breakdown of the survey results which was posted on our website at the time.

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Proud to Play Auckland

During February, the club sent a sizeable group of 19 swimmers to Auckland for the Proud to Play Games. Born out of the regional OutGames, the team in New Zealand managed to pull together a very well run and enjoyable swim meet as part of a multi-sport event that also saw many of our members participate in a tough open water swim.

The meet took place over two days and had a full programme, given the low number of swimmers, the racing came thick and fast – but allowed us all the afternoons off to explore some of the beautiful city of Auckland.

Wett Ones was also very proud to have many swimmers stay in town for the rest of the week and participate in the Auckland pride parade.

This meet was the first in which we sent a male and a female team captain, selected by the committee, to help assist with the planning and organisation of the events while overseas. Following this meet, the committee had extended discussion as to what exactly should be the role of team captains and how they should be selected in the future. The committee decided that if team captains are to be chosen in the future they should be selected by the membership at each AGM as per committee positions.

Wett Ones 2020

In July, a large group of members got together to work on developing a strategy for moving our club onward and upward towards the next decade. Those who came along spent the better part of 3 hours brainstorming and discussing many of the issues that we currently face and may face in the next few years, and came up with some clear goals for us to work towards.

So here is a brief summary of our goals for 2020:

  • Additional 10 regularly attending lesbians
  • Additional 10 regularly attending young people (18-30)
  • Be attached to another 1 (non-sporting) LGBT affiliate
  • Participate twice a year in activities with other Sydney LGBT Sports groups
  • Documented coaching succession plan, and formal coaching philosophy
  • Programme for re-engaging with people who haven't swam recently and to decrease annual rate of attrition by 10%
  • Develop and implement an up to date electronic system for members and financial systems tracking
  • Reach a documented position on issue of sexuality in club committee position

We also collected over 50 ideas from which these goals arose which we will definitely keep on the radar in the coming years.

The Issue of Sexuality in Wett Ones

This year a large amount of committee time was spent discussing the issue of sexuality within the club. This has been an issue that has existed within the club long before I joined, but was brought directly to the committee’s attention following the Auckland Proud to Play Games.

Attention was brought to the fact that we have a growing number of non-LGBT club members, and there was a suggestion that the club should act to limit this growth through preventing non-LGBT swimmers from taking committee positions and from joining the club itself.

This is obviously an issue that is difficult to handle, with the potential for offence on both sides of the debate. Some thought it better that it not be brought up in this report, but given the amount of time and intense emotional involvement from committee members it does everyone a disservice to overlook it in this summary of the year.

Following intense discussion, a sub committee was formed of Nick Ward, Tracey Clay, and Mi Weekes, who were given the task of coming to a suitable conclusion prior to the AGM.

The result of this discussion was that a paper including various proposals was presented to the committee on which the committee then voted. The committee voted strongly in favour of a fully inclusive club in which anyone can fully participate regardless of sexuality.

Conclusion

Who knew running a little swim club could be so involved?! My thanks to the outgoing committee and our coaches for their support throughout this year’s highs and lows.

This year has been one of stability and forward planning for the club. Our membership numbers and demographics have been very consistent for many years. Our finances, while down this year, are in a healthy state so long as the swimmer fee deficit is promptly addressed.

Engagement is something we need to continuously work on. This year we have done a lot of work in understanding what members want and how they prefer to communicate. We do need to understand how to get more people involved at a deeper level within the club – running the club takes work, getting the club to where we all want it – with more young people and more women for a start - will take a lot of work, and will therefore require more member involvement. Some of the activities this year such as team captains, the 2020 strategy session, and the subcommittees that were established aimed to build this engagement.

If I had a dollar for every great idea that was mentioned to me this year but was then laughed off when I said ‘sure, you can go ahead and organise it’ I would have at least enough for an espresso martini! All members are welcome to help organise and host events!

Lastly, let’s not forget our club’s purpose – swimming and inclusivity. Say hi to new members and make them all feel welcome in our little swim club. Listen to our coaches and try to use their instruction and our fantastic facilities to our advantage. Also, let’s try to have a whole heap of fun while we do it.

Yours,

Tristan Bray

Club President 2015-2016

 

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