Written evidence from British Swimming and the Amateur Swimming Association (OLL 05)

 

Introduction

 

British Swimming (BS) and the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA)

 

BS is focused upon the strategic direction and management of elite athlete performance, Olympic and Paralympic medal success across all aquatic disciplines. BS success is underpinned in England by the actions of the ASA. Their remit is to ensure the widest participation in the sport and that those people with talent can make a smooth transition into the elite programmes of BS.

 

The joint vision for BS and the ASA is:

o To ensure everyone has the opportunity to learn to swim

o To ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy swimming or water based activities for health and fun throughout their lifetime

o To ensure everyone achieves their different personal goals throughout their lifetime

o To ensure we achieve gold medal success on the world stage

 

In essence we are about more people swimming, more often, having more fun and winning more gold medals.

 

Summary

 

BS and the ASA welcomes the opportunity to contribute to this inquiry into securing a legacy from the London 20102 Olympic Games and this paper builds upon evidence submitted to the 'House of Commons Select Committee Culture, Media and Sport London 2012: Call for Evidence' (November 2007).

 

Our evidence concluded that London 2012 presents major opportunities - which must not be wasted - to provide the lasting, national swim facility the sport badly needs; to motivate many more people across England to swim regularly and thus to encourage active, healthy living; and to win national prestige, through medal performance.

 

Whilst the majority of programmes would have been developed for the future benefit of the sport there is no doubt that the London 2012 Games has accelerated these programmes by the provision of additional funding and opportunities. The Games has enabled the development of personnel to work to international standard and has provided the opportunity for Great Britain (GB) to have an increased profile and influence overseas.

 

Swimming is already Britain's number one participation sport. We also know that swimming is the activity most people want to try; that one in five cannot swim; we have more pool opportunities than ever before, in the public and private sectors. Though evidence suggests many do not meet customer expectations today and we know that new and refurbished pools drive participation.

 

The Games themselves will not drive up participation but by linking success at the Games to our policies and programmes, we can together achieve a shift in participation.

 

Swimming is crucial to the 2012 Games - it is the launch of competition, it is the first week, it will be the hottest ticket in town. It will win vital early medals for the GB Olympic team. We stand ready to support the 2012 Legacy effort in every way possible!

1. Whether the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will deliver a lasting legacy of social, physical and economic regeneration?

We believe that the award of the 2012 Olympic Games to London gives British sport, as a whole, a 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity to make a huge leap forward in performance. However, we also believe that it provides a catalyst for sport to contribute towards improving health, fighting obesity, improving the quality of life and helping combat some of the social ills of crime, drug abuse and equity.

 

Initial interest in swimming often comes through school or because of family involvement and participation is often sustained throughout life. Unlike many sports the cost of equipment, a costume, towel and perhaps a pair of goggles, is small and for this reason alone swimming is well placed to make a significant impact on the Government's objective of promoting activity for all, through its "At least Five A Week" recommendation. Swimming is already the most popular sports activity with 11.9 million people swimming regularly and research has shown that 13% of the population who do not have an active lifestyle consider swimming would be their choice of recreation.

The challenge is to transfer this interest into activity but for swimming to make an impact in increasing participation there needs to be a culture change in the way swimming pools are operated to meet the diverse needs of both new and existing customers.

However, if a change in culture is to occur, firstly there is a cost to be met in providing training and ongoing professional development for the pool operators, swimming teachers, coaches and pool staff to equip them with the skills needed to drive the activity and the health agenda. The industry has told us that we need over the next five years to double our training provision in this area if we are to deliver the important growth in participation and achieve the results we all need. This facility can in due course make a significant contribution to this work and provide much needed skills development to the economy of the area.

Secondly there is a need to ensure that the necessary facilities are available to meet an increase in use and the needs stemming from the broadening of the range of activities and importantly that these facilities will be high quality, well programmed, affordable and accessible to all.

There are significant challenges but the ASA would seek to build on the learning from the Everyday Swim project and we are involved with the Government's Free Swimming initiative and various partners in different parts of the country, to encourage people to be more active. The intention is to put the customer at the heart of the decision making process and seek out new markets whist retaining existing customers and encouraging them to swim more often.

BS and the ASA have policies relating to the staging of more events of an international nature which will serve to increase interest in swimming and its disciplines and in the process get more people swimming. BS and the ASA work closely with UK Sport in the bringing of major events to this country and in so doing help in the meeting of many of the Government's targets in relation to social problems and health and increasing prestige for this country from the staging of a successful event.

 

There was a study carried out on the economic impact of the series of international events held in Manchester in 2008. This concluded that they were worth 23 million net to the local economy and that the events supported a total of 499 full-time equivalent jobs in the Manchester area. Of the six events, the World Short Course Swimming Championships contributed 7 million of this, second only to the UEFA Cup Final at 11 million.

 

BS together with UK Sport, London Development agency (LDA) and Visit London is currently conducted a study on the feasibility of successfully bidding for and hosting the LEN European Championships in 2014. It is useful to note that the cost of staging the event is circa 5m and whilst having significant commercial value such an event does require additional public funding of around 50% of budget costs. This would normally be shared between UK Sport and the local authority. However, the economic impact of such an event would be in excess of 15m. Such an investment also complements some of the skills and social targets and provides massive media interest which enhances the whole project. These factors make a compelling case for this type of event.

 

 

2. Ways of maximizing the value of the Olympic legacy both within the host boroughs, London and across the UK

2.1 Inspiring a new generation of swimmers across England

Swimming has a comprehensive plan in place for the teaching of swimming linked to a progressive awards structure. We have the ambition to transform learning to swim into an industrialised process i.e. Islington managed to get 3,500 people in swimming lessons this year.

 

In England, swimming is part of the national curriculum, all children need to achieve at least 25m before leaving primary school and have an understanding of water safety. Each pupil needs to develop a range of skills and not just be limited to the measure of 25m, as general water confidence and skills will provide benefit to them in the future. A "School Swimming Improvement" programme exists to support pupils who need extra swimming lessons to achieve the target.

 

Free Swimming - This cross-Government investment of over 140 million package comprising contributions from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Department of Health (DoH), the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). Aimed at increasing participation particularly in the over 60s and under 16s, it also has an aspirational element to encourage all local authorities to offer free swimming to all by 2012.

Swimming is a key strand of the DoH's 'Change for life Campaign' which has one aim, to change the lives of families in England by improving their diet, exercise and attitudes to good health. We have also seen significant investment from some Primary Care Trust (PCTs) who are looking seriously at sport and in particular swimming as a vehicle for delivering health goals. Barking and Dagenham have recently invested over 1m in swimming as part of a wider project to address health inequalities.

2.2 Community Use in London

Overall the London Aquatic Centre (LAC) can play a major role in building a more active and healthier community in the East end of London. In the build up to the Games it will be important not to raise expectations we cannot sustain until the pool opens in legacy mode. We would see some community use, which will provide the opportunity to test activity but the main programmes will be provided through the Five Host boroughs programmes through this period.

 

Considerable discussion and planning has already taken place with the venues team at Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) through the business planning work, it has been centred upon the need to ensure that the potential of the facility is fully explored and that it becomes a focus for not only the development of swimming but also an important focus for the population in the East of London. It is important that the site does not become intimidating to local people due to its scale. Having non sport facilities connected to the site will help to break down these perceived barriers, for example having community facilities, polyclinic etc close to the Aquatic centre and having an intergenerational model that caters for the diversity of the area will help to engage people.

 

We have worked with the Five Host boroughs and the venues team in OPLC to produce a clear plan for Aquatics. Each Borough in turn is producing its own Aquatics Strategy with a key person appointed to drive this forward. This will ensure a massive participation and performance is released bottom up.

 

2.3 Developing Talent and Excellence across England

We were all delighted to see the swimming team return with six medals from Beijing which was the best result for 100 years.

 

Any Olympic or Paralympic Games will generate the hottest competition and 140 nations have swimmers, coaches and facilities already in full combat mode. We predict at this stage more medals than Beijing for the British team (out of the roughly 100 swim medals available). We are fortunate to have the necessary investment, organisation and culture, the right coaching structure and an effective talent identification scheme. We will do our utmost to prepare our swimmers, divers and water polo teams to perform "out of their skins" for their country.

 

All aquatic disciplines now receive lottery funding with an investment of approximately 46m million over a four year period enabling a growth in resources and activity to ensure the development of the elite programmes.

 

BS currently operates five elite programmes - These are swimming, disability swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and water polo. These are funded through the National Lottery programme and have a focus on producing success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and other major World events. The delivery of these programmes is primarily through Performance Centres and we currently have a network of 13 centres across the UK.

 

London 2012 has also provided us with the opportunity to review the delivery of our talent programmes for all disciplines to identify and develop talent and ensure its growth beyond 2012. The ASA is focused on developing a fully integrated and seamless pathway for developing athletes, coaches, teachers, volunteers, sports scientist and support staff, such as the Beacon programme in 50m pools in England which also ensure strong links between the club programme and the elite programme to ensure enhanced training opportunities and sport science support are available locally. Training camps for young athletes now provide a more holistic programme by the inclusion of coach development clinics and parent education seminars. These positions bring together funding and engagement from the governing body, the local authority, and the area's clubs, making best use of water and coaching resource for each clubs' more talented swimmers.

 

It is recognised that the club structure is vital to the implementation of many of the legacy programmes which will develop the sport and therefore focus is given to the accredited club programmes and the development of networks of clubs ensuring a comprehensive pathway for athletes is being developed throughout the country.

 

The London 2012 Games bid was a catalyst for the development of the UK School Games (UKSG) which in turn has been used by swimming as a basis for reviewing the whole competitive pathway for young people. This review sits alongside a comprehensive programme whereby strong links are forged between schools and local swimming clubs, and the formation of a wider competitive network that encompasses young people who are not currently taking part in any form of competitive swimming.

In England the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) programme is providing a mechanism to ensure talented athletes are supported, both financially and educationally, at a key stage in their development prior to obtaining a place on the UK Sport World Class lottery supported programmes.

 

Playground to Podium puts in place the talent pathways for identifying and supporting disabled swimmers. A framework has been developed to enhance existing player pathways and provide increased opportunities for sporting prowess to be developed and recognised

 

2.4 Development of talent and excellence in London

Beacon programmes are being developed at Ealing, Crystal Palace and one that encompasses the Five Host boroughs. These will be central to the delivery of:

 

A multi-disciplinary pathway from Learn to Swim/Foundation level through to performance level and life long participation

Providing selected athletes with access to enhanced development opportunities, including athlete support services

Helping deliver better swimming teachers and coaches

Providing a comprehensive programme to deliver the UK Coaching Framework and other educational programmes for a number of sports and community activities

Acting as a host for the athlete and coach apprenticeship programme across a number of disciplines

It is envisaged that the "five borough" aquatics programmes will operate within their own sub-region for the development activities up to the lower stage of talent, then access the LAC as an enhancement of local provision at the appropriate stage of development. Ultimately, the talented athletes will be based in the LAC for practically all their training activities. This will allow economies of scale to be created in provision, which in turn will create greater capacity and minimise delivery costs.

 

However, this does not preclude the development of a vertically managed development programme from learn to swim through to excel level at the LAC, which allows an individual from the locality to develop without every accessing another facility.

 

The London Disability Squad based in Tower Hamlets is drawing the majority of its athletes from the Five Host boroughs are an example of the ground swell of work already taking place and is an area we can build upon.

 

2.5 Developing Skills

This is critical to moving the sport forward. The ASA is trying to place this on the agenda of every club, county and region in England and we want to recruit new, young people into the sport and make changes that will have a lasting legacy. The UK Coaching Framework will play a key role in ensuring swimming teaching and coaching is recognised as a profession and strengthens the quality of the delivery of swimming teaching and coaching.

 

The aquatic disciplines have taken the opportunity afforded by London 2012 to re-examine the career pathway and examination structure for technical officials and all disciplines now have a British qualification and agreed delivery model. To encourage ongoing continuing professional development, all disciplines have now established, or are working towards establishing a licensing programme for officials coupled with a fast track programme for retiring athletes. This has ensured an ongoing legacy of a comprehensive, standardised qualification and ongoing development programme for technical officials.

 

BS and the Home Countries are committed to the development of current staff as sports administrators and development staff. The ASA has a volunteering policy that allows staff to 'work 'within the sport or other agencies as part of their personal development. In addition we are keen to develop a programme that will work with retiring athletes to provide information and opportunities to be part of the sport either as paid or volunteer staff.

 

The London 2012 bid also highlighted the need to identify suitable personnel for international exposure and a nucleus of appropriately qualified members have been given the opportunity to attend events overseas as event organisers, technical officials and announcers. This has resulted in LEN and FINA requesting the presence of some of these members at additional events, particularly in the field of announcing and event organisation.

 

Swimming is taking every opportunity afforded by London 2012 to enhance the delivery and presentation of events building on the legacy from the Commonwealth Games and World Championships in Manchester. Those involved in the delivery and presentation of events have been given the opportunity to visit quality international events to identify and implement best practice back in the UK. BS continues to invest in event delivery to enhance the experience for both the participant and the spectator.

 

We plan to recruit from East London an events team which will be trained to meet the challenges of the 21st Century in the event world providing employment and skills which in turn would assist people to find work.

 

Swimming has taken advantage of several programmes set up by UK Sport focusing on the development of personnel and international exposure. Swimming has representatives on the following programmes:

 

UK Sport International Leadership Programme

Women and Leadership Programme

Elite Coach Programme

In addition, the Chief Executive is a mentor on the UK Sport International Leadership Programme

 

Furthermore the International Representative Programme has enabled Britain to take advantage of all opportunities to exert influence on the European and World swimming political agenda with Britain continuing to have representatives on key committees and decision making fora in LEN and FINA.

 

Volunteering is a key element of the London 2012 Games and swimming is undertaking a number of initiatives designed to encourage the recruitment and retention of volunteers. In addition, work is ongoing to ensure volunteers are trained and have access to resources to assist them in their role. Fora have been created to ensure appropriate volunteers are able to shape and implement initiatives.

 

The 2012 Paralympic Games has provided an enhanced opportunity for the development and training of classification teams for disability swimming which will provide an ongoing legacy for the sport.

 

2.6 Developing skills in London

The ASA has long held an aim of developing a National Swimming Academy possibly based upon around a 50m pool and an academic Institution and linked into the Institute of Swimming. The LAC would provide an ideal base for the water based training activities with office accommodation, training rooms etc. based in the under croft of the stadium.

 

The ASA presently has some 12,000 candidates embarking on its qualifications as well as over 7,000 attending CPD events each year but the setting up of an academy would be to provide a more comprehensive coach education and training programme in swimming and associated health issues as well as covering aspects of facility management and linking into the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence scheme, Apprenticeships for Swimming teachers and coaches and Swimming development alongside the wider emerging National Skills Academy.

 

The development of the Academy is seen as a major step in the development of swimming and meeting its long term aims but of equal importance is the role it can play in the development of the LAC as part of the everyday life in the East End of London.

 

2.7 Facility Development

The ASA'S National Facilities Strategy highlighted the lack of 50m pools in London, which compares badly with other European Capitals. As a minimum, there is a need for one 50m pool in each quadrant in the area bounded by the M25. The LAC will complement the existing 50m pools in London at Crystal Palace and Hillingdon. Also, it will increase the stock of 50m pools in England, which still compares unfavourably with other leading swimming nations.

 

Facilities are being built and refurbished throughout the country. Examples of new 50m pools which are under construction or detailed planning/consideration due to the Games include:

Corby, Hillingdon, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Birmingham, Luton, Guildford and Basildon.

 

Temporary pools used during Olympic Games could be sold to partners to further enhance the stock of facilities throughout the country bringing tangible benefits to the nation of staging the Olympics.

 

The ASA is working closely with Sport England (SE) to ensure that facilities and their programming are strategically planned using the Facility Improvement service and the Local Aquatic Strategy toolkit developed by the ASA.

 

3. The use and management of the Olympic Park and venues after 2012

 

Whilst the main LAC is being designed and built primarily to meet the requirements for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, in legacy mode it will provide a premier swimming centre in the nation's capital city. The centre will be much more than a competition and training venue with focus on the following areas:

 

International competition venue for all aquatic disciplines

National and long overdue regional training centre for London

A facility for the local community to enjoy recreational swimming and aqua fitness activities

Dry leisure areas complimentary to the pool

National Swimming Academy linked to the Institute of Swimming and the University of East London providing a comprehensive aquatic workforce development programme

 

Working with the host Boroughs of Newham, Greenwich, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest and with the Mayor's office we aim to change forever the way swimming is delivered in this area. The Boroughs will actively collaborate on the development of Talent, Disability, Workforce and Health as well as developing their own distinct Aquatics Strategy.

 

It was always intended that the LAC was to provide a facility which could showcase British and English swimming and allow the staging of International aquatic events without having to hire an indoor arena. As was the case for the World Short Course Swimming Championships in 2008 or temporarily re-configure a pool as was the case for the Manchester Commonwealth Games where seating was built over the diving pool and the leisure water area. A purpose built swimming venue is something which has been lacking in Britain and has prevented British swimmers having home support. The excellent results in both the World Short Course Championships and the Commonwealth Games have illustrated what a difference home support can make.

 

We are in the process of preparing our quadrennial plan for the period 2013-2017 which will take in the next Olympic and Paralympic cycles and establish the future direction for the years ahead. This will be finalised prior to London 2012 and will take into account the opportunities arising from the new LAC and its proposed business plan. A major consideration in this review will be the fact that currently there are no British High Performance Centres within the Greater London conurbation due to lack of facilities and therefore the provision of World Class facilities in London provides an excellent strategic opportunity for a number of our sports. It is seen as essential going forward that we utilise the potential within this large population area.

 

The current funding arrangement with UK Sport is through to 31 March 2013. At this stage it is not clear the timeline for the establishment for future funding beyond this period. The potential usages therefore subject to the identification of suitable resources and agreement on competitive financial arrangements in relation to facility usage.

 

Of particular interest would be the creation of a High Performance Centre for Diving and synchronised swimming which could be truly world class. The combination of the facilities for diving in relation to both pool and dry land could potentially provide a training facility second to none. Swimming, disability swimming and synchronised swimming all have contractual arrangements in place for High Performance Centres. However, these will be reviewed in the context of performance outcomes and the opportunities arising at the London Aquatic Centre. An essential ingredient for any High Performance Centre is a one stop shop approach to the needs of athletes. Particularly important would be access to higher education provision.

 

It is now a matter of some urgency that we establish the management team for the facility and work with them on turning this plan into a reality

4. Progress towards meeting targets to increase grass roots participation in sport

It should be recognised that increasing participation is a long term strategy , as stated above swimming is already the highest participation sport and that 13% of people who do no activity would wish to do.

The ASA has undertaken considerable research into the barriers to participation and have worked with Sport England on the Everyday Swim project which has provided excellent learning and ideas. We are now focused on putting the customer at the heart of the process, creating programmes that meet their requirements and ensuring staff are trained to meet customer expectations. Their experience begins at the point they enter the facility and we need to improve the quality of pools through refurbishment and new build as evidence tells us that this will drive participation.

We work closely with Sport England and the Government Departments through Free Swimming and our Whole Sport Plan to increase participation. Early results of Active people and our own research suggests a significant increase in throughput to pools but the significant challenge is now to convert the more casual users into regular users.

Our belief is our strategy will achieve this over period to 2013 however important now to build on Free Swimming with similar initiatives that are taken through to March 2013 i.e. National Learn to Swim campaign or a National Swimming campaign linked to 'Change 4 Life'.

5. The aim of leaving a lasting legacy that improves cultural life

Public investment in sport and culture go hand in hand and can be complimentary. Many major events that British Swimming have staged, such as the World Swimming Championships in Manchester have been linked to cultural events which not only allows overseas visitors to experience British culture at its bets but to support programmes which improves the cultural life of community.

 

Similarly to our work in Everyday Swim and now Free Swimming to find new markets we have extended our reach into cultural groups in the community and have encouraged them to participate in swimming as well as and enhance their own group activity i.e. gospel singers in London.

 

6. How success in delivering lasting legacy can be measured?

By measuring more people, doing more sport more often. However we do need a Standard measurement of what we mean by activity as this is currently different and across health and sport.

By having a certainty for investment into sport.

January 2010