Swimming is a bit different from most recreational activities. It’s not just a sport, it’s a fantastic health and wellbeing activity and in a country surrounded by water, it’s a crucial life skill.
While most Kiwi kids love swimming, interestingly, it’s not just the kids. Sport NZ’s 2013/14 Active NZ survey results show that swimming is the second most popular recreation activity (behind walking) in the 16–75 age group.
And as the Waikato region’s RSO charged with delivering swimming, Swimming Waikato is very aware that it needs to do a fantastic job.
And it has been – starting with a significant change in the way swimming was delivered back in mid 2014 when Clive Power was employed in a part-time role to work with a group of senior coaches. The brief was to develop a Regional Development Pathway, which has since become the guiding document for how swimming is delivered in the region. During his initial two years with Swimming Waikato, Clive was also working as head coach of the National programme in the lead-up to Rio.
In late 2016, the Swimming Waikato Board decided it was time to expand the coaching role associated with the Regional Development Pathway into a full-time one, and as luck would have it, Clive was available.
We asked Swimming Waikato’s executive officer, Cherie McCleery, to reflect on the last two and a half years:
“Clive and I started with Swimming Waikato on almost the same day, and it’s been a busy time in swimming in Waikato ever since.
We’ve trialled a few different swim meet structures, before settling on a tiered system that provides a great competitive pathway for our swimmers. We’ve introduced a heap of new fun initiatives for our juniors and we’re seeing a tidal wave of talented young swimmers coming through our club programmes.
We’ve introduced combined squad coaching sessions for our senior swimmers and we’re hosting regular coaches’ breakfasts which provide a group of our senior coaches with the opportunity to share their knowledge with their peers.
For our smaller clubs, we’ve introduced the concept of ‘Secondary Hubs’ and this year, we’ll be encouraging more collaboration between our hub clubs by way of shared club nights, technique clinics and coach development opportunities.
We’ve also piloted our adult ‘Swimming For (Your) Life’ programme with members of the Waikato Chiefs squad and we’re looking forward to offering this programme to corporates and community groups throughout the year.’
Swimming Waikato recently hosted the Central Long Course Champs which saw more than 280 top swimmers from Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay/Poverty Bay, Wairarapa and Waikato challenge themselves in a full swimming programme with heats in the mornings, and hard fought finals in the afternoon.
Knowing the hours that these athletes train, the hours of planning and support provided by their coaches, and the dedication shown by the region’s officials to deliver quality meets is what inspires the Swimming Waikato team to aim to improve the support that they provide at regional level.”