Written by Nancy Miyake

While all eyes were set on the pool at the FINA World Championships in Budapest this month, Let’s Swim staff from Tonga Swimming and Fiji Swimming were huddled around a large shower curtain hanging on the wall of Swimming Australia’s board room in Melbourne while discussing their next steps for 2017 and 2018.

A shower curtain may seem like an odd thing to have hanging on the wall, but the staff were using it to map out their goals and desired outcomes for the Let’s Swim program in the coming months.

Let’s Swim is a grassroots foundational swimming program funded by the Australian Government and the Pacific Sports Partnership. Each year, the program takes time to reflect on the best practices and challenges in order to make the next year of the program stronger.

Over the course of 10 days, staff from both national federations focused on improving not just the technical swimming side of their programs, but also the program management and governance aspects which are the most important aspects of making their programs run well.

Programs like Let’s Swim are accompanied by some new territory for some staff, such as a strong focus on people management, reporting and creating a strong media presence. After the 10 days, staff walked away with increased confidence in these areas as well as a clear direction for their participation programs.

Both federations worked with facilitators to establish some desired outcomes around increased participation in Aquatic Sports, combining both water safety programs and other activities like water polo and aqua aerobics to engage newcomers to swimming.

ABC International featured some of these stories during a radio session on Pacific Beat, which was aired across the region.

Despite the cold Melbourne weather, staff were also able to get wet in the heated Victorian pools. The staff spent an afternoon with Shawn Read from Shawn’s Swim School looking at “mums and bubs” participation programs as well as Aquapulse for aqua aerobics training with adults.

Marni Jacka with Water Polo Victoria even treated the staff to a special training session with Greig Richardson and his squads to see what it takes to be a real water polo player. The Let’s Swim women learned about Flipper Ball, Water Polo VIC’s beginner program, as a possible way to keep children in the water after they’ve graduated from learn to swim programs.

Oceania Swimming wishes to thank Swimming Australia for hosting the women over the 10 day professional development training and for their continued supoort under the Pacific Sports Partnership program. OSA looks forward to the next 12 months of Let’s Swim.


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