Grass roots swimming key to boosting Australia’s Olympic medal tally
Swimming WA has announced a new focus on encouraging more swimmers to join a swimming club in a bid to arrest a national decline in numbers.
WA’s peak swimming body said the number of swimmers involved in club swimming declined steadily following the Sydney Olympics in 2000, with specific development programmes and initiatives reversing that trend since 2014.
Swimming WA Chief Executive Officer Darren Beazley said Australia will dramatically improve its chances of future Olympic gold if it continues to grow the pool of swimmers it can draw from.
“At Swimming WA, we’ve made it our mission to improve participation rates at all levels of swimming.
“We have developed fantastic programmes for both our elite athletes and those who just want to give Club swimming a try. The challenge now is ensuring we get that message out to the general public.
“We want more people in the water, getting some exercise and having fun. If it happens that as a result WA produces the next Olympic champion then that’s a bonus,” said Mr Beazley.
As part of the new initiative, Swimming WA will work closely with local WA-owned swimming pool manufacturer Aqua Technics to promote the benefits of swimming.
“Here in Australia swimming clubs are known for being incubators for Olympic talent, and that is heavily complemented when people have access to a backyard pool. We don’t mind whether people swim in their backyard pool, the community pool or at the beach, just as long as they are in the water having a go,” said Mr Beazley.
Perth leads the way in private pool ownership, with a 2015 Roy Morgan survey showing 18 per cent of all Perth residents live in a household with a swimming pool, well above the national average of 12 per cent.
“Owning a backyard swimming pool and learning to swim is part of the fabric that makes us West Australians, some of Australia’s greatest swimmers spent all summer in their backyard pool before joining their local swimming club and going on to win Olympic and Commonwealth gold,” said Mr Beazley.