British Gas partner message from David Sparkes

The British Gas Swimming Championships marks a year since the ASA/British Swimming announced British Gas as a new principal partner. Here ASA Chief Executive David Sparkes contemplates what has been achieved over the 12 months.

As the British Gas Swimming Championships are held in Sheffield and we see our athletes challenge for a place at the Commonwealth Games, European Championships and other major teams, I’ve been reflecting on where we were one year ago.
At exactly this time last year we had proudly unveiled, in a blaze of publicity, that British Gas was our new principal partner. There was also an unplanned announcement from me that we were going to “Duel in the Pool with the USA!” We were all immensely excited about the opportunities this offered.
We didn’t know exactly where we were all heading with this new relationship but we did know that it was a positive move for British Swimming, the ASA and the sport of swimming as a whole.

Since the launch we have celebrated so many successes together:

  • Our expertise has been enhanced and strengthened by British Gas’ commercial experience and knowledge.
  • British Gas has helped us to improve our working relationship with pool operators and for the first time has got the industry sitting round the table at the same time.
  • The endless “summer of swimming” where we shared success in Reykjavik, Rome, Istanbul, Scotland, Sheffield .... The list continued through the autumn and winter with our athletes contributing to the celebrations with their success stories.
  • Together we have put swimming back on TV, showcasing the sport through “Duel in the Pool”.
  • Awareness of the British Swimming /British Gas partnership has increased alongside an increase in the general public’s awareness of swimming.  This has been driven through the work of our people in the field and the power and energy of British Gas and their massive publicity campaign.
  • British Gas has supported our 270,000 once-a-week participation objective through their Free Family Swim promotion which has seen over 280,000 swims taken up across the UK.
  • We have seen more media coverage for our swimmers than ever before, thanks to the work of the British Gas team.
  • They have helped us to re-launch Swimfit and more than quadruple Swimfit membership.
  • They have lent us one of their marketing managers, Rebecca Dibb-Simkin, who has been a very welcome addition to the team, bringing fresh new learning and ideas to the way we conduct our marketing activities.

Perhaps the most astounding thing is how much British Gas has absorbed swimming into its heart.  The British Gas Brand team all took part in the Great Swims last summer and now train regularly at their local pools.

I’m assured that 1,000 British Gas employees will be jumping in the water at the 2010 events. Pamela Brown has even launched herself from the 10m board in Sheffield – really living the job!

What a year! I have been hugely impressed by the drive, energy and force behind our shared objectives and I am delighted and amazed by the amount of difference we have made in year one. British Gas has proven to us, time and again, it is really committed to changing the face of swimming in this country, and for this I am extremely grateful.

This year will be even bigger and better for our partnership. We have just received the latest Active People Survey results. These show a decrease in the decline of swimming. This is fantastic news, and as we head towards the Commonwealth Games with one of the strongest teams we have had for many years, we are well on the way to becoming the World’s Number One swimming nation by 2020.
I would like to personally thank the people at British Gas, whom I have grown to respect and like very much. I know they have our best interests at heart. I would also like to thank all of you for your part in this story as it has been, and will continue to be, a true partnership.
I look forward to entering year two with even more enthusiasm and energy and look forward to even more amazing results.
David Sparkes
Chief Executive

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