Have you ever wondered why the volunteer coaches at Solihull Swimming Club do what they do? And why the very few officials we have go to Swimming Galas so your children can enter competitions?
Well, I am Derrick, and I am a qualified swimming coach and Swim England licenced Referee, and you will see me at the Club 2 or 3 evenings a week – I used to do more! So, why do I do that?
In 2002, I was none of these things, I was a parent like you, sitting on the side-lines, watching my son swim hour after hour. But I thought to myself, I can do something more interesting and useful than just watching him go up and down. So, I simply joined the club as a poolside helper, without any experience and have never looked back.
As a new assistant I didn’t need any particular swimming knowledge. I had been a swimmer as a child, but I knew nothing about stroke technique, improving stamina, athlete development etc – that wasn’t necessary as I picked such stuff up as I watched and learned. I simply watched the swimmers and got them to do what the head coach wanted – except my son never wanted me to coach his lane as he knew my limitations! The rest is history. Swimming is now my hobby although I also teach kids and adults at Virgin Active (reasonable membership rates and great atmosphere!)
We now have a bit of a crisis at the club. We do not have enough coaches as some excellent ones have moved on as their children have moved on. We are also short of swimming officials – those people who stand at the end of lanes and walk up and down dressed in white at competitions. Without coaches and officials, as well as the myriad of other roles, our club cannot continue. I’m not suggesting you might wish to qualify, as I did, but there is a need to increase the amount of adult help given to the club. You don’t, actually, need to know that much about swimming to give us a hand, there are always jobs for which only the experience of a parent is necessary! My wife, for instance, keeps time at time trials, and she knows nothing…….. 😊 ( Have permission to say that!)
But if you are interested in swimming, maybe a competent swimmer yourself, or an accountant, an administrator, a teacher…. you may have skills that you could bring to bear. The club has over 500 children enrolled, so it is a vital and valuable community in the borough. It encourages all sorts of skills other than swimming, such as discipline, co-operation, loyalty, friendship, youth training and many more. But without adult help, it will die. Every year, a coach leaves because their child has moved on (understandable, but if you want to stay, as I do, that’s great!), and few come along to replace them. At some time-trials, we actually do not know if we can run the trial until we have ‘threatened’ a few by-standing parents to come and time a lane!
What can we offer you in return for help? A sense of fulfilment for giving something great to the kids of the club. The fellowship of belonging to a like-minded group. All roles are voluntary as the Head Coach is the only one paid on a part-time basis but , depending on your level of commitment and role fulfilled, we do offer discounts on your child’s membership fee.
So, rather than ask why does Derrick do that, ask yourself, could I do that? Think about it; it’s much more interesting than just sitting there, honest! Thanks for reading this; and if you think you could do this too, please see Head Coach, Ben Stanford, Club Chairman, Nick Pemberton or any club official, they will bite your hand off!