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Volunteering Week - Swimming Volunteers

Many of our volunteers do several roles in their club and at events as well as outside swimming. Ruth Bradley-Holt does lots of volunteering in her local community. Here Ruth, pictured with husband Simeon and daughter Lauren all volunteering at an event, tells us her swim volunteering story.

In the swim world, I first started volunteering at Manchester Aquatics hosted swim meets as a marshall. This may have been at County level or Regionals – I can’t remember. I can’t say I enjoy the marshalling role, but it’s a necessary role and a very important role too.

With Lauren at City of Salford Swimming Club, I then volunteered as a club Team Manager on poolside, looking after the welfare of the club swimmers, and making sure they were ‘race ready’ to get to their event in marshalling in ample time, armed with goggles, spare goggles, etc.

As a Team Manager, I used to observe the officials, thinking they were all paid ‘swim’ officers. I quickly learnt that they too were volunteers, but in another required role, necessary to run and support swim meets.

That brought on the next challenge – become a timekeeper for internal club events.

In the meantime though, I volunteered to become Club Secretary at the club’s AGM in November 2018, as the role was vacant. I fulfilled this role for my 3 year tenure.

However, I then qualified as a timekeeper in March 2019, and then found myself embarked on my J1 qualification journey. It was a natural progression. I finally qualified in March 2020, the weekend before the pandemic shut down the whole world, not just the swim world. It was a hard journey as I’m not an ex-swimmer myself, and had to attend swim meets to gain valuable experience, and to be mentored by some extremely supportive and knowledgeable people. I was really out of my comfort zone for quite a while. My first mentoring session was at a Level 1 meet at Ponds Forge in the national qualifying period – talk about dive in at the deep end!

Anyway, as the pandemic continued, with sporting events opening then closing, I decided to go for the J2 qualification. This has been a bumpy road as so many people departed the swim world – for various reasons – through the pandemic, leaving Swim England short of officials. This is how Simeon, my husband, then got involved – he decided to qualify as a time keeper, then as a J1 official to support the local (North West) swim meet events. He finally qualified in January 2022.

Meanwhile, after 3 years as club secretary, I volunteered to become club chairperson at the club AGM in November 2021. This wasn’t planned whatsoever. It just happened. The role was becoming available due the previous chairperson having completed his 3 year tenure in role. Newer swim parents attended at the AGM and were happy and keen to take on some of the committee roles. The club committee embraced more willing and capable volunteers coming forward, so I volunteered – rather impulsively! – in the knowledge that my skills, abilities and experience as a retired police Inspector could be well utilised.

Not really sure what my / our volunteering swim world highlight has been. We do it to ‘muck in’ and make a positive contribution towards supporting swim meets so that they can go ahead and happen, whilst also actively supporting our daughter’s swim club. Post-pandemic, it’s very rewarding to see club swimmers, from all clubs, have the opportunities to race again.

Knowing that I  / we contribute towards this is very self-fulfilling and rewarding.