10 September 2020
Hello, my name is Jeff Spence and I am the new Chair of Staines Swim Club. I am a former competitive swimmer (Canada, Provincial Medallist) and diving coach, and taught swimming lessons for several years, through high school and university. I am very pleased to have taken over the Chair position for Staines Swim Club this summer. It was a difficult time to step in, but also showed me what a great team we have.
As you know, the club came very close to closing after the impact of the Covid shutdown, but through some very impressive efforts and hours on the part of the Committee and coaches, it has been pulled back from the brink.
We were able to pay off all debts owed by the club (using existing cash reserves), and the money from registrations is sufficient to cover costs month-to-month. As the club grows, we will continue to run in the black, and to gradually build up a reserve account to protect us from problems like we faced during the first Covid lockdown.
We can be very proud to have such a dedicated team.
Now that we have moved past that crisis, we have begun to implement and plan some exciting developments for the club. It is your loyalty and commitment to the club that have allowed us to do this, and we thank you for staying with us as we aim ever-upward. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the great things we’re working on.
First of all, we are planning to fill the Head Coach position as soon as possible, in order to ensure that our performance swimmers continue to get the training and advice they need to advance and gain success once galas begin again. We will keep you posted as things come together. We will also see the return of Emma Staight to the coaching staff, and I know many of you will be pleased to see her back.
We have also secured time in the 50m pool at Aldershot to ensure that our performance swimmers gain experience and training in Olympic-type circumstances. The broader the experience we can give them, the better they will perform when in unfamiliar pools later on.
There are other ideas in the works to increase the success and team-building abilities for our performance swimmers, and we will update you on these as they gain shape.
We are increasing the resources aimed at our Learn to Swim (LTS) programs and facilities. We’ve completed some upgrades at the Cygnet teaching pool and have more in the plans, to make it a bright, inviting, and safe environment for our little ones to learn. My own daughter completed her lessons there, and it is an ideal place for new swimmers to gain confidence and skills without being overwhelmed. Our other LTS locations will continue to have high standards and quality teaching as well.
Communication is also a high priority. As part of this, we will be sending out a monthly newsletter to members, keeping you appraised of developments in the club, introducing (or re-introducing) you to poolside team members and facilities, and even throwing in a few fun activities for younger swimmers to keep them excited about swimming even when not in the water.
Colder weather is coming, and so we have worked out a way to allow younger swimmers at Cygnet Pool to get changed indoors before going outside after swimming – this procedure still needs to be tested, but we are confident that little ones will have a safe place to get dry and can leave the building snug and happy.
Since Covid has shut down the possibilities of a normal gala this year, we are in the early stages of developing an in-house gala plan, and an e-Gala plan that could involve other clubs. These efforts will allow our swimmers to gain the experience – and fun – that galas bring. Restrictions and the state of the pandemic can change quickly, but we are designing the events to be as adaptable as possible, even with some restrictions in place. We will keep you posted on this as plans progress and will put out a call for volunteers as opportunities to get involved arise.
We have also installed a Covid Liaison to make sure we are meeting or exceeding safety guidelines in the pools and surrounding areas.
Finally, the club is growing. There was a necessary decrease in size after the shutdown, but we are already receiving requests for places at many levels and are strategically expanding to meet those needs – but more importantly, we are focussing on delivering the best quality of instruction and coaching possible. Doing that, in a safe manner, is our primary goal.
Once again, I thank you for being part of Staines Swim Club, for your patience during this transition, and for being one of the reasons that the club has been able to overcome and succeed. We are all able to still be here, in part, because of you.
Chair, Staines Swim Club