Introduction

Please find below the annual President’s Report for Wett Ones Swimming Club. I am once again pleased to report that in many areas the club has continued to go from strength to strength and reporting on these areas is my absolute pleasure as President. However, running this club is not without its challenges, and as I’m sure those on the committee will agree with me – we have had a few this year!

Firstly, the positives. When looking back at our long-term plan for club development through to 2020 we have once again made many great strides which I hope you will find reflected in the body of this report and through your experiences this year. Looking for example at our membership numbers we have once again cleared the 100-mark which is a great achievement, and referencing the age group split we can see that the most growth has come from the younger age groups – exactly in line with our goal!

Additionally, the improvements we have made to the club’s systems and processes, many of which are completely behind the scenes will make the running of the club for future committees considerably less time consuming and less manual. Transitioning to all electronic payments and banking for example, makes the roles of Race Secretary, Treasurer, and President much less ‘paper work’ focused. I’m pleased to report I haven’t had to write or post a single cheque this year! This work, combined with the ongoing budgetary focus and some great successes we have had with sponsorship (discussed later) have resulted in us ending the year with a small profit – a great result for the whole club.

Some of the other new initiatives we made happen this year will be discussed in more detail later, but one which you are all aware of is our transition to ‘cashless’ swimmers' fees. You would not believe the time and effort that went into the selection, qualification, and testing of this system by a small number of our committee. Thanks to them and thanks to the volunteers who will help to run the system going forward. Several other fantastic initiatives have happened this year that you may be less aware of which are also covered later.

While we had some great successes this year, we also hit a few stumbling blocks. There were a few things that we sunk time into that just didn’t work out which was a shame for all involved. We had some last minute drama during Mardi Gras which could have seriously impacted our club finances. Also, of course we lost our head coach in not the best circumstances which could have proven to be a serious set-back for the club. Fortunately, we have a small group of people who invest inordinate amounts of time and energy to keep this club running and going from strength to strength. These people know who they are, but deserve our ongoing gratitude. I strongly encourage more people to step up to help with the running of the club to help spread this load and reduce the ‘burn out’ that many experience.

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.

Tristan Bray, Wett Ones President

Committee 2016 – 2017

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 - Rachelle Ting
  • Male Swimmers Representative - Nick Ward
  • Safety Officer - Sam Isaacs
  • PR and Fundraising - Susie Purcell and Anna Griffin
  • ABC Coordinator - Bob Nagel
  • Non-portfolio - Chris Saxby

Thank you everyone for your contributions throughout the year!

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, we have developed a list of sponsors and donors who contribute either funds or products which help the club to continue to operate successfully.

This year the club has focused on our sponsorship strategy by producing a sponsor prospectus, and by starting to delineate between our financial sponsors – who receive greater recognition from us – and our partners and sponsors who offer us smaller products and prizes.

The club would therefore firstly like to extend a huge thank you to our major sponsors for their financial support of the club. We are extremely grateful for their support. These sponsors are:

  • ACON
  • Dentistry at the Cross
  • George Skoufis, Optometrist
  • SheCamp Group Fitness
  • The Performance Chiro

In addition to these sponsors we would like to thank our venue partners who continue to offer us reduced rates, and are generous with support via prizes for our raffles and AGM, and are a pleasure to work with on an ongoing basis:

  • Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre
  • Belgravia Leisure

Our club also has great relationships with a number of businesses in Sydney who always generously provide prizes and gifts for our members at the AGM and for our annual raffle. We would like to express our thanks to these businesses also:

  • Gelworks Personal Lubricant
  • Royal Hotel Darlinghurst
  • Dendy Cinemas
  • Poolside Cafe at ABC
  • David's Cellars 

Membership 2016 – 2017

Overall, the club consisted of 105 members as of 11th November 2016.

Total membership by Year

The total number of club members has increased by 12 this year which is a great result for us. This exceeds our previous peak in the Darwin OutGames year of 2014. We believe this growth has come directly from two specific initiatives – our Tuesday and Thursday lunchtime sessions, and our new recruit camp during Mardi Gras. This goes to show that in the areas where we have put in effort we have seen results. A further comment to make is, as shown by our financial reports, while our membership has grown our Sydney Uni swimmer numbers have dropped. We need to work on this next year as a priority.

The club has always struggled to achieve gender parity, despite our current proportion of women being a big improvement on where the club used to be – we still have work to do to build our female membership. We have slipped back slightly this year, which can be attributed to most of our new membership growth being from men.

% Women by Year

The club’s age distribution has classically been a normal distribution about the average of 45 years old, but as can be seen in the graph below we are slowly pushing this average downwards as per our strategic plan. The growth in the 30-39 age group is especially pleasing, and we hope this starts to translate into a growth under 30 in the near future.

Age Group Split - Last Year vs This Year

Treasury

The club has finished the year with an approximate $600 surplus from last year’s closing position. This year our target was to ‘break even’ – giving us a much more sound financial position from where we were last year which ended with a notable loss. Therefore, to exceed this is an excellent achievement and puts the club in a very stable position for the coming year.

The club primarily achieved this position through sound financial management, a necessary increase in swimmers fees to $5.50/session, and the addition of three new financial sponsors. We would like to extend a sincere thank you to our generous sponsors, and the members who contributed to our fundraising efforts through the year.

As well as increasing our income, we made several efficiencies in our expenses though reduced coaching fees, and through reduced lane usage. These reductions may not be sustainable forever though and so the club should not rest on its laurels here.

While our position is sound, we have concerns over the ongoing decline in swimmer attendance at Sydney Uni evening sessions. Our membership numbers have grown, but our swimmer attendance has dropped – this should be investigated and worked upon in the coming year.

The club has sufficient cash reserves to ensure ongoing operations and with some additional fundraising effort from our members we would be able to use our surplus now to invest in club engagement and development this year.

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 subsidising costs wherever possible for our members, some examples of which are:

  • participation at Mardi Gras Fair Day + Parade
  • running our inaugural new recruits ‘boot camp’
  • subsidising CPR training for our coaches
  • subsidising club swim wear, t-shirts etc (5$ to 10$ per article)
  • subsidising special masterclasses and workshops for stroke correction
  • running six sessions per week throughout the year at USyd (regardless of numbers)
  • covering ancillary costs for club social events
  • maintaining our website, social media, graphics and marketing at a high standard
  • covering organisation membership costs of MSNSW, IGLA, and Team Sydney

Safety

The club began the year with no elected safety officer, however at our first committee meeting Sam Isaacs volunteered himself for the role for the year. We are pleased to report that this year was a safe year for the club.

We only had one reportable incident this, which actually did not occur at the pool – it occurred during Mardi Gras and we were only made aware of it after the fact.

This is a big improvement on the previous year in which we had several minor safety incidents. As result of our discussion at last year’s AGM, lane 6 now swim in both clockwise and anti-clockwise patterns as required to reduce the risk of hand clashes. In addition, as a result of ongoing lobbying from us and after many meetings between the pool management and myself we now have brand new (and usually tight) lane ropes.

Coaching at Sydney University

We would like to extend our thanks to all the coaches who have given their time, skills, and knowledge of our sport to the club this year: Peter McGee, Vassili Efimov, Janet Bolton, Nick Westaway, Wendje Magnus, Brian Osterio, and Danny Crowe.

Having two coaches on deck at each of our evening sessions was identified in past AGMs as a key driver for improvement of swimming and contentment with coaching. We managed to continue this through 2017 by bring some new coaches on board to support our experienced coaching team. We would still encourage more coaching volunteers to step forward to help us avoid coaching burnout in the future.

As is traditional, the coaching programme during 2016-2017 was split into long course and short course seasons. While each season’s coaching was geared to working towards a target swim meet – Miami OutGames in May and the state championships in October – we were more flexible this year by moving dates of the seasons according to member requests and only pushing race preparation training on those who were interested.

This year we introduced Tuesday and Thursday lunch time swimming sessions at University of Sydney as well, bringing the number of sessions up to 6 during the winter and to every day in the summer! A special thanks and commendation must be extended to Janet who spearheaded this initiative which has resulted in us expanding our reach and gaining some excellent new members. Janet runs these sessions taking minimal coaching fees and they have proven to be a hit with those members who can attend.

Also, this year, we held multiple workshops and masterclass sessions which were extremely popular, and were particularly focused on improving swimming technique:

  • Breast stroke (Mark Holmes and David Helliwell)
  • Fly (Janet Bolton)
  • Starts and Turns (Nick Westaway)
  • Backstroke (Vasili Efimov)
  • Long Distance free (Damon Kendrick)
  • Dryland (MSNSW)

Thanks to everyone for their involvement and thanks to Janet and Peter for organising.

Our coaches are impressively dedicated to the club and to the ongoing improvement of their own skills. Each has attended events, workshops, and training to continue their professional development this year – examples include Peter attending the MSNSW coaching workshop and Wendje attending the Snowy Mountains boot camp.

This year we were disappointed to lose our long-time head coach Danny Crowe. I thank all the current and new coaches for their support during the transition to our new arrangements and especially would like to note Peter’s contributions in ensuring the coaching program remained on track.

Saturday Mornings – ABC

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Saturday morning swimming was once again very popular during summer 16/17, and I’m sure will be strong again this year once the weather picks up. This is thanks to Bob Nagel for his organisation, and all of you who post your beautiful pictures of Andrew Boy Charlton pool.

The swimmers’ fees from ABC have been approximately consistent year on year for several years and always more than cover the costs of running these sessions. Fees at Belgravia pools are now less than at Sydney University, and the lack of coach on Saturdays means that there are no additional overheads.

The new summer season has just recently started, and Wett Ones have once again confirmed and booked two lanes at ABC pool right up to end of April.

This year we did not have a volunteer to organise or the interest to continue with last year’s winter Saturday sessions at Cook & Philip pool. Instead we opted to extend the ABC season as much as possible while giving our organisers some well-deserved time off over winter. As such we ran the 16/17 season right to the end of April and we commenced the 17/18 season as early as possible in September. This was seen as an effective compromise.

Our relationship with Belgravia as our second venue partner and as a sponsor of the club is good, as evidenced by the favourable rates we receive and their flexibility with lane hire at all of their pools when we need it, and their generous prize donations for our AGM.

Masters Swimming

Wett Ones is one of forty-nine masters swimming clubs in NSW and ACT. This year swimmer attendance at carnivals has reduced again – which is something we need to look at in the coming year via an active and encouraging Race Secretary. With that said our members did attend many state, national and an international meet this year.

At the time of writing, the club has scored 1,411 points in the Masters Swimming New South Wales rankings, placing us 3rd in the second division for a second year in a row.

One thing that must be commented on this year is the huge number of outstanding times set by our members. We are have regularly seen new PBs and Club Records set by many members. Find below the list of club members who have placed in the national top ten for their age/gender grouping:

Rachelle Ting (3 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd), Susie Purcell (1 x 1st, 1 x 3rd), Jodie Johnston (1 x 3rd), Lou Lou Stanley (1 x 2nd), Michelle Daley (1 x 5th), Megan Mclachlan (1 x 2nd), Cath Rogers (1 x 4th), Masaki Shibata (2 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd), David Loader (1 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd), Tristan Bray (2 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd), Chris Healey (1 x 1st, 3 x 3rd), Nick Westaway (1 x 2nd), Wendyl Luna (1 x 2nd), Mark Holmes (1 x 3rd), Pascal Blanquer (2 x 1st), Charlie Edwards (1 x 4th), Nori Fujikawa (1 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd), Bart Tuteleers (2 x 1st, 1 x 3rd), Sean Coulson (1 x 1st), Ryan Bennett (1 x 2nd), Vassili Efimov (1 x 7th), Haydn Wood (1 x 1st, 2 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd), Nick Ward (2 x 1st), Chris Bevitt (1 x 2nd), Wayne Sherson (1 x 5th), Peter McGee (1 x 1st, 1 x 2nd), Andrew Cumberlidge (1 x 1st, 1 x 3rd), Chris Saxby (1 x 6th), Damon Kendrick (1 x 1st).

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

Tsvetelina Hristova, Tim Buckton, James Baber, Rowan Sinden, Gary Lee, David Helliwell, Colin Standen, Adrian Lim.

In addition to these lists, it must be noted that 54 club records have been broken this year - an incredible number!

Swimmer Numbers

Number of Swimmers (Using Square)

This year for the first time, enabled by our electronic payment system Square, we are able to report on some new metrics which will help us to better understand the health of our club. Some interesting examples of this data are shown below. While these graphs don’t give the true picture this year as we have been scaling up usage of the system gradually, and some people still pay in cash, this data will be very useful for monitoring the health of the club going forward.

Average Number of Swimmers (Using Square)

The first graph shown here, clearly demonstrates the gradual scale up of the usage of the system. This will be very interested to revisit next year when all payments for the whole year are made through Square as we will really be able to see with definitive data the drop off that we anecdotally experience through winter. We will even be able to drill much deeper and view this graph by week to see if there are particular phases during the season which are preferred by our members.

The second graph allows a comparison between the average number of swimmers on each day of the week. Again this graph is incomplete as we slowly increased usage of the system over the year with Mondays and Wednesdays going cashless earlier than other days. However, this data is already showing what we expected, that Monday and Wednesday are almost twice as busy as Friday and Sunday. Next year, with a complete data set, this will be a very interesting graph to comment on.

Mardi Gras Fair Day and Parade

The Mardi Gras period is an important one for our club each year as it gives us a considerable chance to easily increase our exposure within the LGBTIQ+ community and more widely. This year we put a real focus on making the most of this opportunity and it really paid off! Big thanks should be extended to the organisers of our Fair Day stall and our Mardi Gras parade entry as both of these events were highly successful for us this year.

Fair day was in a new venue this year, and was organised for the first time by Craig Ellis, and with the help of many volunteers our stall was successfully set up and looked after for the whole day. We received lots of enquiries as usual, but also as usual very few of these converted into any new swimmers. It is still a fun day for all and important exposure for our club among the other sports groups. One thing that did work well was having a specific event (our boot camp – see below) to promote. Giving someone a specific date and event at which they can join was very well received. We may wish to consider even having an ipad on the stall in the future to collect people’s details and sign them up to our mailing list directly.

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This year, for the first time in recorded Wett Ones history, we also had our own Wett Ones float in the Mardi Gras parade. The club has been involved in many floats in the past but this is the first time that our name was the one on the program. The club extends its thanks to Masaki Shibata and the rest of the subcommittee that was formed to organise the project. On the night of the event everything went smoothly, and everyone involved had a fantastic time. This was excellent exposure for the club and our members to exactly our target audience, and from the feedback we have received our involvement was definitely noticed. It would be excellent for the club to make our involvement in the parade a new tradition. I should note however, that I would strongly encourage a more organised approach to the management of the project in the future, to help to avoid last minute scrambles, costs, and the lasting personal conflicts that resulted from the stresses of this year’s event.

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Both of these events are not inconsequential financial costs for our club. As discussed above, they are certainly worth repeating despite these costs, but it is absolutely necessary to continue the rigorous budgetary management process that we followed this year. Costs could easily escalate for the parade if left unchecked – this year we were lucky enough to receive a $1000 grant from Google to help pay for our entry, but we still had to ask for last minute donations from participants to cover costs. Fortunately, we did manage to break even this year thanks to these additional income streams but without them we would have lost nearly $1500, highlighting the importance of closely monitoring the costs associated with the event in the coming year.

New Recruits Boot Camp

As a new initiative this year, also during the Mardi Gras period, Wett Ones ran a short introductory session at Prince Alfred Park Pool for potential new members – 90 mins for women, and then immediately after 90mins for men. The purpose of this session was to provide a fun and welcoming environment to make it easy for new swimmers to give the club a try and hopefully sign up. We incentivised people to come along by making the event free to join (swimmers just had to pay pool entry), by including a barbeque with some beers after the swimming, and by throwing in a discount on the first 20 swim sessions. Tristan was the primary organiser for this event, but Janet, Nick, Rachelle, Masaki, Chris, Sam, and Anna assisted with organising and some of our very regular swimmers joined in the water to keep things running smoothly.

In short, this was a highly successful exercise. During the planning of the event we were concerned that costs were mounting up (lane hire, bbq food, drinks) but the financial analysis that we conducted showed that this event more than paid for itself (more than 3 times over!) since so many of the potential new members were converted to members, paying their joining fee, and then since a decent number of these new members continued to swim with the club for the rest of the year.

The event itself was relatively easy to organise – promote it heavily, encourage people to sign up online to a mini-mailing list (so you capture their details in advance and can follow up on them joining), have at least 1 coach or volunteer per lane to ensure the swimmers are well supervised, and as usual slightly over order on food and drinks! Since the event was mostly run by swimmers and not coaches the vibe was very light hearted and fun, and was really all about giving the new swimmers a taste of our club.

I would strongly encourage repeating this event again in 2018 as it was particularly good at attracting one of our key target markets 25-40-year-old men. I believe with correct promotion it could be equally good at attracting women.  I would caution against doing this in the middle of Mardi Gras again though since the President and Treasurer are under a significant work load already at this time of year – an event later in March that could still be promoted during Mardi Gras seems to be best idea.

Miami OutGames 2017

In May 2017, the club sent a sizeable group of 12 swimmers to Miami, Florida for the World OutGames and IGLA Championships. The OutGames themselves did not run as planned as they were extremely poorly mismanaged by their local board, this was a big disappointment as many of the social events and other sports were cancelled though fortunately the swimming event continued as planned thanks to the local LGBTIQ+ swimming team.

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The meet took place over three and a half days and had a full programme. There was a decent number of swimmers which led to some long wait times in high heat and humidity. Given the conditions many of our swimmers performed exceptionally well including setting 34 new Personal Best times, 8 new individual club records, and 1 new relay club record. Well done to all of the swimmers who travelled all that way to represent the club – Ryan, Tristan, Nori, Chris H, David H, Mark, Adrian, Megan, Uli, Rowan, Nick and Nick.

Many of our swimmers then continued on to explore other parts of the United States and Central America making a real adventure of their swimming trip!

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Coming out of this experience, and when also thinking of the failure of the Auckland regional OutGames, the club would sadly have to recommend exercising caution when attending events associated with GLISA in the future. In particular it is recommended that members are reminded to pay direct to hotels, and airlines, or use only known local travel agents for their travel arrangements, as some members were charged excessively by overseas agents on this trip.

Coming up in August 2018 is the Paris Gay Games, this is run by a different and seemingly more financially robust organisation, and so it is recommended that the club supports and encourages our members to attend, but also remind them to exercise caution with overseas travel.

Wett Ones 2020

In July 2016, a large group of members worked together to develop a strategy for the continuing improvement of our club. While this exercise has not been heavily discussed this year, a surprising number of the activities and initiatives that we have been working on are highly related to the goals we set out. Comparing our current progress to our original goals allows us to celebrate our successes and refocus on the areas that need work in the coming year.

10 new lesbians

  • Gained 2, lost 3 regular lesbian swimmers
  • Not specifically targeted or worked on.
  • Female rep to actively recruit within the lesbian community, be given budget for ads, and full access to social media.

10 new 18 to 30s

  • Gained only 1 new regular 18-30 member, but 7 new 30-40 members
  • Popular new recruit boot camp and rebranding of club online and social.
  • Repeat the boot camp. Post more online & social. Keep pushing MSNSW to act on reduced fees for youth. Expect 18-30 to grow once the club has a ‘younger feel; to it.

Community Affiliation

  • Formal arrangement reached with ACON
  • Great progress on affiliations with various organisations, ACON being the highlight.
  • Continue involvement and engagement with ACON, try to re-sign for another year.

Cross-Sport Activities

  • No progress.
  • No one has worked on this.
  • Re-appoint a club member to work on this goal.

Coaching plan & philosophy

  • Philosophy documented and included online. Major issues with succession planning.
  • Danny left prior to having a succession plan. Put considerable strain on existing team. Still need volunteer coaches.
  • Continue to look for one or more experienced coaches, and encourage club members to volunteer as assistant coaches. Upload info on new coaches to website.

Re-engagement with old members

  • No progress.
  • No one has worked on this.
  • Re-appoint a club member to work on this goal.

Electronic comms and financial system upgrade

  • Mailing list is moved to MailChimp, and Square payment system is up and running.
  • A huge amount of work has gone into this goal and we have reached a point where it is now showing.
  • Continue to transition all swim session to cashless payments. Ban cash payments. Stick with Mail Chimp and utilise Facebook for small comms. Start using the data.

Documenting our position on requirement for LGBT in membership and/or committee positions

  • Continue to be an open, welcoming, and diverse LGBTIQ+ club as per our constitution.
  • Huge amount of time and energy spent to debate the issue. Outcome had overwhelming support.
  • Continue to include LGBT terminology in club advertising and promotion, and welcome all new members to the club and committee.

Conclusion

It has been a privilege to lead the club through these past few years of significant change, and to do my best to navigate us through some turbulent waters during that period.

I have been asked a few times over the past few years by members and others if there is still a place for an LGBTIQ+ swimming club in Sydney in 2017. My own answer is that I don’t think there is a place for the Wett Ones of 5 years ago – a club without young people, a club without a modern online presence, a club whose existence depended on one person making it to the bank each month with a wad of $5 notes, and so on.

I do though think there is very much a place for the Wett Ones of 2020; if we continue on our journey of sustainable growth and change towards an operationally and financially robust club known for its diversity, openness, member engagement, and community involvement we have a bright future!

Yours,

Tristan Bray

Club President 2016-2017