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Chief Executive of British Swimming and Board Member David Sparkes Profile

David Sparkes is the British Swimming Chief Executive and board member.

David Sparkes David has been involved in Swimming for over 40 years. Having learnt to swim at school, he developed a keen interest in the sport and continued to swim both recreationally and competitively with his local swimming club in an open air pool at Droitwich.

David studied to become an engineer in Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics. To assist him financially through his studies he worked as a lifeguard during the summer and assisted with the pool maintenance during the winter for many years. It was during his time at the pool, and following the building of a new indoor pool at Droitwich, that he developed an interest in teaching and coaching swimming.

After qualifying as an engineer, David went on to undertake post-graduate studies in management at Aston University in Birmingham and continued his interest in swimming by taking up the Head Coach role at his local club, guiding them through the early years in the new pool.

Eager to gain additional knowledge to pass on to others within his club, David qualified as an ASA Teacher in 1972, as an Advanced Teacher in 1974, ASA Club Coach in 1978 and gained the highest award at that time of the Association, the ASA Coach Certificate, in 1981. David continued to coach the local swimming club and successfully produced swimmers at international, national, district and county standard.

Eventually David decided to pursue his business career through his own engineering business based in Stourbridge in the West Midlands, specialising in Environment Plant construction. The pressure of business forced him to move away from practical coaching however he continued to maintain his interest in the sport by developing an interest in administration at district and county level. It was not long before he was invited to join a number of national committees and indeed served for many years on the ASA Coach Certificate Committee and the ASA Education Committee where he acted as Chairman.

David was also invited to join a small group to develop the Amateur Swimming Association’s Corporate Strategy and this group set many of the key work programmes for the Association which have enabled it to move from strength to strength in recent years.

David continued to work as an amateur within the Association at district and national level, joining the ASA Committee and serving on the ASA Management Committee and as a full member of the ASA Council.

David was appointed as Chief Executive to the Amateur Swimming Association and British Swimming in 1994 and the skills gained through his business experience have enabled him to bring a sharp business focus to both organisations. He continued to bring modern business practice and a keen commercial approach to both organisations’ affairs until July 2014 when they separated and David became Chief Executive of British Swimming.

David has played a fundamental role in planning the future development of the sport including the appointment of a National Performance Director, with the aim of establishing swimming in this country as a world power in international swimming.

David continues to swim and cycle on a regular basis, his wife pursues an active interest in the sport as a voluntary chairman of their local swimming club and now his grandchildren are learning to swim.

David’s contribution to the sport is very wide indeed.  He is the author of a book - 'Swimming for All' - and has contributed to a number of other publications on the sport.  David was fully involved in delivering the Commonwealth Games 2002 and later the FINA World Championships 25m 2008, both in Manchester.  He was also a member of the successful bid team that secured the London Games 2012 and has been fully involved from the beginning in preparations for the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow. He plans to also bring the European Swimming Championships to London in 2016.

David was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2011 for his services to swimming.

He is a member of the British Olympic Association Board which he joined in 2009, a member of the Loughborough University School of Management and Economics Advisory Board and serves on the London Community Sports Board which advises London on driving participation and legacy from the 2012 Games.

David has also been active outside Britain and after joining the LEN Bureau (European Swimming) in 2009 he was appointed General Secretary in 2012.  He is also joining Swimming’s World Governing Body, the FINA Bureau, later this year in 2013, the first British appointment to that Bureau for 45 years.

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