Volunteers are the lifeblood of swimming. Without them there would be no national champions. But making a difference is not the only reason for giving up your time.
If you’re thinking “why volunteer?” you are not alone. Many people pondering whether to volunteer ask it. But a better question could be: “why not volunteer?” Because if you ask this question you may find you have more to gain than lose.
For a start you will have celebrities for company. Take Ralf Little, star of the Royle Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. He can be found giving his time freely for swimming, as he did at the Nationwide Short Course Swimming Championships at Ponds Forge in Sheffield in November 2009. He is pictured above at the event with six times paralympic champion Sascha Kindred OBE.
Ralf says: “I love sport, so supporting disabled athletes in their ambition to win gold is great fun as well as rewarding. I want my involvement to mean more than just putting my face and voice to the events."
The knowledge that you are helping to make a difference is big driver for volunteers, celebrities or not. You may be seeking greater social responsibility from your life. Volunteering for a club can offer you this.
And it is not all about giving. For a start many clubs offer volunteers the chance to learn new skills, click here to find out more. And there are other benefits also. You may pick up free swimming, for example.
Annabel is a volunteer at Otter Masters Swimming Club in London, and she is someone who benefits from this. “You get as many sessions as you like and they even send you a card on your birthday,” she says.
If you are a former swimmer then becoming a volunteer can offer you a “fascinating” insight into the sport while remaining part of it. As one former swimmer points out: “I found volunteering infectious."
And this isn’t all. Together with the knowledge that you are making a difference, learning new skills and potential access to benefits such as free swimming, you will also make new friends and have a lot of fun in the process.
The future growth of swimming, and the other aquatic disciplines, depends heavily on the skills, knowledge and commitment of its volunteer workforce, which at the last estimate was considered to be more than 30,000.
It may be something as simple as selling raffle tickets or helping out at the club shop. However, it may be a work related skill you have such as treasurer, team manager or press officer.
If you are a young person looking for more information on volunteering, then click here. In this document you will find out how you can offer your time in the run up to 2012.
Whatever your age, your local club needs you. So pick up the phone and give them a call.