Wett Ones Club Survey 2019

Wett Ones’ mission is to provide a safe, friendly and supportive swimming environment for the gay and lesbian community, our friends and allies, in Sydney. To achieve this goal, we asked our members for their feedback about the club, including how we could make our club even stronger for the future.  The feedback is below.

What did our 2019 survey tell us?

  • There were 78 participants

    • 32 of these were members of two years or less

    • 19 have been members for more than 10 years

    • There were nine female respondents, 58 males and 11 who did not specify

  •  50 of the participants swim two or three times per week

  • Almost all participants swim at Sydney Uni evening sessions

  • Two thirds of participants prefer to swim evenings; mornings were the preferred time for 10 participants

  • The vast majority of participants would prefer additional evening swimming sessions, overwhelmingly preferring a 7:30pm start at Cook and Phillip Pool on both/either Tuesday and/or Thursday evenings

  • For those preferring morning sessions, a 6:30am start is preferred (marginally) over a 6:00am start (these were by far the most popular times suggested)

    • Thursday is the most-preferred morning to swim, followed by Wednesday and Tuesday

  • Three quarters of participants were willing to trial an online booking system

  • There is substantial interest in participating in a swim camp, IGLA in Melbourne and the Gay Games in Hong Kong

  • One quarter of participants would like to see a casual dinner on an evening other than Wednesday as added encouragement to swim at other times

 Themes in the comments sections:

In addition to the below feedback, there were particular suggestions encouraging us to ‘just add more lanes and times’ to our existing sessions. Regrettably this is not possible for reasons outlined below.

 Wett Ones has been swimming at Sydney University for almost 25 years. In the recent past, we have sought additional times and lanes from Sydney Uni; for the last six months or so, we have been able to access a fourth lane at busy times.  However, their expanding swim squad will prevent our access to a fourth lane and their existing bookings either side of our own prevent any additional times or lanes being made available to us.  Simply adding a lane, extending our time or splitting our sessions over a longer period is not possible.

 With regards additional sessions at other pools, there is a similar lane capacity issue.  We asked for availability at all pools across inner Sydney, and their feedback is listed below:

Cook and Phillip Pool

Mon, Weds, Thurs, Fri – 2 lanes after 7:15am

Mon, Weds, Thurs – 2 lanes from 7:30pm

Tues – 2 lanes from 7:15pm

Fri – 2 lanes from 6:30pm

Prince Alfred Park Pool

Only after 7:30am to midday

No availability evenings

Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre

No response

Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton Pool

Thurs – 1 lane between 6am and 9am

Mon, Fri – 2 lanes after 5pm to 8pm

Tues– 1 lane

Victoria Park Pool

Mon, Weds, Thur, Fri – up to 3 lanes any time

Tues – 3 lanes 6am to 7am

Mon and Fri – after 5:30pm

Should it become necessary to expand the number of training sessions, we will be guided by the availability of lanes at pools across the inner city. We are mindful to ensure that pools are easily accessible by public transport, as well as the availability of coaches.  We have to work within the availability of space at the nearby pools

Themes in feedback

Introduce a booking system

We have trialled, and will roll out for a further trial, a booking system called Appointy.  Appointy will allow those people swimming at morning and lunch time sessions to book and pay ahead of attending a session.  If successful, we can look to scale use up to include sessions at Sydney University.  More details about Appointy and how you can use it will be advised shortly.

Set a maximum lane capacity

Where swimmer numbers are above 30 at any particular session, the coaches will use their discretion and take appropriate steps to manage higher numbers.  Options may include splitting lanes 7 and 8 into short course, adding to the total number of swimmers who can swim at a session.  The safe maximum capacity of swimmers per lane is generally 12 (per 50m/long course lane) and seven (per 25m/short course lane)

Limit of swims/sessions per week

The club has trialled this in the past (particularly in the lead up to the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney).  At this time, however, we believe that our additional morning sessions are providing swimmers flexibility in the times they swim and that there is no need to limit swimmers to a maximum number of swims (or to swimming on either Monday or Wednesday).  Our booking system may also assist with managing this.

Close membership once a threshold is reached

Wett Ones currently has 121 active members.  At the end of 2017 the total members were 104 and in 2018 we had 144.  The issue is not necessarily the number of members we have – rather, the issue is the frequency with which members swim at training sessions.  We will encourage swimmers to look at training at alternative sessions or times – equally, our booking system may assist with this once implemented.

Operate sessions concurrently across other pools

Splitting the club’s training sessions between different pools is at odds with the long-standing approach of the Wett Ones training at one pool, together, as one club.  The Committee considers this to be an option of last resort in the event of sustained high numbers during a particular session time.

Swim certain ‘lanes’ at certain sessions

Before the 2018 Gay Games, a morning session was held for swimmers training for Paris, with a particular focus on competition preparation.  Currently, also, morning sessions have a predominant focus on lane 6 and 7 swimmers (however, all are welcome to attend!).  Should numbers increase and additional sessions be required, consideration can be given to particular sessions having a focus on particular capacity/skills.

Incentivise swimming at sessions other than Monday and Wednesday evening

Since the beginning of February, swimmer numbers at Sydney University on Monday and Wednesday night have returned to a more sustainable and manageable number.  The existing incentive to swim at other times is that they are, generally, quieter – if you haven’t tried another training time and your schedule allows for it, why not give one a go?  Once again, our booking system may assist members to manage their swimming times once it is fully implemented.

‘De-jargon’ sessions/make language consistent

The Wett Ones website currently contains a list of common swimming terms.  The Coaches will work on adopting consistent language across sessions – however, if you’re not sure what something means, please ask!

A monthly ‘newbie’ night to learn about coaching language/squad swimming

We do our best to welcome all new swimmers on the pool deck at their first swimming session and to keep encouraging them over their initial training sessions..  We will work with the coaches to see whether more can be done to assist new club members and those who are new to squad swimming.

Regular sessions focussing on technique

This feedback will be passed along to the coaches to incorporate into their planning.

Hold social events outside bars/clubs

The Committee will continue to look for opportunities for members to socialise after swimming, or away from the pool.  We want these events to be accessible to all members.  Upcoming examples include the proposed kayaking trip in the Kangaroo Valley.

Appoint a head coach to coordinate training

The Committee has considered the club’s ability to have a Head Coach – we have had one in the past.  The matter has been referred to the coaches committee and they are considering various options.  Members will be kept informed of developments.

Concern about focus on growing membership and participation in competitions

At our January committee meeting, three strategic objectives for Wett Ones between now and 2022 were agreed.  They are:

·       Improve and consolidate the club’s membership, financial position and future operations

·       Increase active participation of lesbian members of the club

·       Encourage increased participation in competitions, including at the Gay Games in Hong Kong in 2022.

In 2016 the Club developed and adopted a ‘Wett Ones 2020’ strategy, which looked to grow the club’s membership particularly amongst younger gay and lesbian swimmers.  Over the past 12 months, our membership increased more than 40 per cent on the previous 12 months, and we have seen a small number of new swimmers so far in 2019.  We will never say no to a new member – particularly given a key strategic goal for the club over the next three years is the recruitment of additional lesbian members.  More broadly, however, our focus is on membership consolidation rather than recruitment as it was in the recent past.

Similarly, the Club’s participation in swimming carnivals has increased over the last 12-18 months – in 2017, the Club finished third on the MSNSW Branch Point Score table (in Division 2), whereas we finished second in 2018 (in Division 1). 

With participation in both the IGLA championship in Melbourne and the Gay Games in Hong Kong in 2022 (both with high interest from members) strategic goals, alongside the encouragement of more lesbian members to participate in carnivals as they feel comfortable doing so, striking a balance between encouragement and discouragement is essential. 

Members’ feedback suggests they enjoy competing and want to continue participating in competitions – however, we take on board the feedback that some members are less interested in competing than others.  We do not want any swimmer to feel pressured into competing where they are uncomfortable doing so – however, if you are interested in having a go, we will support any swimmer with an interest in trying.  

Our full strategic plan can be viewed here.

Value long-term members and club traditions

This club is only as strong as its members – those who have been members for more than 25 years, or who are in their first year, are equally important to us.  As we approach the 30thanniversary of the founding of Wett Ones (in 2021), we will look to do more to honour the Club’s founders and stalwarts.  Your suggestions about how we can better deliver against this suggestion are welcome.

Offer a longer session each week

In the past, Wett Ones offered a 90 minute training session at Sydney University on a Sunday afternoon.  It was discontinued due to low interest.  Subject to pool availability, a coach and sufficient interest from members, a trial of a longer session could be considered.  If you have a particular interest in a weekly, 90 minute session please email us.

Allow a focus on ocean swimming

Wett Ones began ocean swimming training for interested members in 2018.  While Wett Ones has predominantly focused on pool swimming, where there is sufficient interest consideration can be given to longer-distance swimming for those particularly interested in ocean swimming.

Share the coaches across the various lanes

A rotating roster of coaches moving between lanes has been implemented from February 2019.

Members with any further feedback about the survey or the management of the club are encouraged to contact the committee, via the Secretary, at secretary@wettones.org