It’s been a couple of years of significant change at Swimming Waikato. In July of 2014, Clive Power and I both arrived on the swimming scene in the Waikato. We were tasked with the challenge of working with the Region’s senior coaches to implement a Regional Development Pathway which would change the way swimming was delivered in the region. As a group, we all agreed that the current model wasn’t producing the kind of results that any of us wanted to see, either in membership growth or performance, and we acknowledged that we had about 2,500 members putting their confidence in us to ensure we were delivering great results for every one of our members, regardless of what their swimming goals might be.
Implementing change is always a challenge and just as we started to make some real traction with the concept, Clive was kidnapped by Swimming New Zealand and spent the following 14 months coaching at the National High Performance Centre.
Even with only a limited amount of Clive’s time, we continued to make some progress in the region. The biggest success was arguably in our junior programme, where we introduced our Junior Development Squad, our Junior Blackout Period, our XLR8 Achievers Club, Relay Days and the Caro Cup competition with Auckland. We were also able to deliver coach development opportunities to many of the coaches of our Junior programmes.
In addition, our top age group swimmers were invited to combined squad trainings and introduced to some of the fundamentals of testing. Our senior coaches attended a number of coaches breakfasts where they had the opportunity to listen to some fantastic guest speakers – Davie Rennie (Chiefs), David Galbraith (HPSNZ Sports Psych), Graeme Maw (Tri NZ), and Gordon Walker (Lisa Carrington’s Coach). And we ran Perform and Develop Camps at St Peter’s School in December 2015.
And after a couple of false starts, we’re confident that we’ve got a great competitive calendar structure with our Carnival, Festival and XLR8 meets providing a clear competition pathway for all our membership.
When it’s written down, it looks like quite a bit of progress, but there were many parts of the Regional Development Pathway where we don’t feel that we were able to get enough traction to really make a long term difference in the Region. So the Board of Swimming Waikato has made the bold decision to take our Regional Development Pathway philosophy and implement it as a Regional Swimming Hub with Clive Power leading the programme in a full time capacity for an initial eight month period. A key learning over the last two years has been that we simply cannot get any real traction without having someone totally focussed on driving the KPIs of the Pathway. This is the role of the Hub Head Coach and we’re delighted that Clive has agreed to lead this programme for the remainder of the 2016/17 swimming year. In early 2017, we’ll be advertising for a replacement for Clive.
Sporting Hubs are not a new concept in New Zealand. Rowing New Zealand introduced their Hubs back in 2005. In the decade leading up to the introduction of the Hubs, Rowing won a total of 11 medals at World Championship and Olympic Games events. In the decade after the Hubs were introduced, the sport medalled 60 times !! Cycling is following suit and in October 2016, the first cycling hubs began operating in New Zealand.
We believe the concept of the Hub is crucial to the development of swimming in the region. It allows us to ensure that every coach, swimmer, official and volunteer in our region is well supported and feels like they’re part of a team working towards a common goal. It gives them the opportunity to share their knowledge with their peers, to learn from their peers and celebrate our Regional success because they have had direct input into that success.
The most important thing to note is that the Regional Swimming Hub strategy is unchanged from the Regional Development Pathway which was introduced by Clive Power and a group of senior coaches in 2014. At that time, there was significant consultation and a number of forums held throughout the region to ensure our membership had the opportunity to understand what we were trying to achieve.
The purpose of the Hub is not to force change on the way club progammes are delivered. It’s not to diminish the important role that the clubs play in swimming in the region. It is about us having the ability to work with our clubs to provide our members with the support they need to achieve their goals.
Our Regional Swimming Hub gives us the ability to drive change in the Waikato. We’re unlikely to get any formal support at this stage from SNZ, and we can’t wait for another Region to lead the way with this in New Zealand. The Board of Swimming Waikato is committed to generating funds to deliver this structure and our Clubs will not be required to make any financial contribution to the employment costs of the Hub Head Coach.
This is a hugely exciting time for swimming in the Waikato. We know that results won’t be evident over night, but we’re confident that with the support of our membership, we can take the sport of swimming to a dynamic and exciting place.
Below you can find more information about Swimming Waikato’s Regional Swimming Hub. And if you have any questions, or would like clarification on any part of this pathway, please don’t hesitate to ask.