Swim England

A nation swimming

Andy Salmon urges aquatics community to get behind Swim England’s ‘commitment to change’

New Swim England chief executive Andy Salmon has encouraged the entire aquatics community to get behind the national governing body’s ‘commitment to change’.

In his first interview since taking up the role, Andy gave his thoughts on the recently-published independent listening research and issued a sincere apology to anyone who had endured poor experiences or inappropriate behaviour.

He spoke frankly about the responsibility and opportunities he and the organisation face to ensure that all aquatic sports are ‘really inclusive, accessible and, most importantly, safe for everybody’ who takes part in them.

Watch Andy’s interview in full

Andy, who joined Swim England last month following six years in a similar role at British Triathlon, said it had been a whirlwind few weeks since he took over at the helm – but he hoped his previous sporting experiences throughout his career and his ‘open mind’ would be an asset as the organisation embarks on its cultural change journey.

He urged anyone ‘who cares about aquatics’ to read the listening report as he hailed the ‘many, many volunteers and professionals who work day in, day out to make aquatics the best sport it can possibly be’.

Andy said: “There were things in there [the report] that I found shocking, that I found incredibly disappointing.

“What I think is very clear, is if ever there was a clear call for change, then the report is exactly that.

“My first thoughts are very much with anybody who’s had a poor experience and in particular those people who’ve survived inappropriate behaviour.

“There is no place for inappropriate behaviour in aquatics. Full stop.

“I really acknowledge and I really apologise to those people for the poor experience they’ve had.

Please engage with us

“What we have to do is consider how we respond to this report. The report’s very clear. We need to change and my commitment is that we will change. Let me make that really, really clear.

“We need to model the right behaviours and challenge those behaviours that the report calls out.

“We then need to engage with people.

“So, I envisage us really engaging with people and taking people on a journey and addressing the culture. I think it absolutely has to start with culture.

“Yes, for sure, there will be clear actions. There are recommendations which we accept in the report. We need to take a really considered view on how we react to those recommendations. But as I say for me, it absolutely starts with culture.

“And I ask for people to please join us on this journey. Join us on this commitment to change.

“When the opportunity arises, please engage with us on how we can change and address all the things that we all find so unpalatable in that report.”

Step-by-step changes

Andy said, however, that any change would take time.

“What we mustn’t do is create some sort of knee-jerk reaction,” he said. “But it starts right here and now.

“It starts with me. I take my responsibility very, very seriously.

“For me, to model the right behaviours when I’m walking around the corridors here in Loughborough, whether I’m out and about meeting staff regionally, when I’m meeting with communities which I very much hope to do over the coming days, weeks and months, it all starts with step-by-step changes in modelling the right behaviours and taking full account of everything that’s in the report – and making sure that we don’t accept those issues any longer.”

During his interview, Andy spoke about the reasons why the chance to become Swim England’s chief executive was so appealing to him.

“Lots of people have asked me that question over the last six months,” he said. “The brief was very clear about the need for change here in the organisation so there was a good match there.

“I’m very much change orientated. I think we’ve got a real opportunity to take a good hard look at the culture here within Swim England first of all and then how does that relate to the culture out in aquatics clubs and communities?

“That’s really appealing to me and I hope that I can bring some of my past experiences and some of the skills I’ve developed over many years to good effect.”