Swim England

A nation swimming

Jane Nickerson receives honorary degree for ‘significant contribution’ to swimming

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson said she was ‘truly humbled’ after receiving an honorary doctorate from Coventry University.

Jane was bestowed with the Degree of Doctor of Science by her home city university in recognition ‘of her significant national and local contribution to the sport of swimming’.

Professor Rob James, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Coventry University, read out the oration to Jane.

He said: “Jane is the chief executive officer for Swim England and, throughout her life, has been involved in swimming.

“Highly talented at the sport, Jane was a national grade swimmer herself, before moving into the administration of swimming as a volunteer.

“For several years, she was the Team Manager of the England and Great Britain swimming teams.

“Jane has worked at Swim England for 20 years and over this time has achieved a range of senior management posts, prior to taking up the role of CEO in 2017.

“In her role as chief executive, Jane has led Swim England through the great challenges presented by the Covid pandemic, ensuring the health and wellbeing benefits of aquatic sports could continue.

“Jane’s role and influence is acknowledged at a national level as she was a member of the working group set up by the Sport and Recreation Alliance to develop the original Voluntary Code for Good Governance in Sport.

“She now chairs the Major Spectator Sports Division of the Sport and Recreation Alliance and has taken on a prominent campaigning role on topics such as government funding to halt the decline in swimming facilities and environmental issues around clean bathing water in open spaces.

“In recognition of her significant national and local contribution to the sport of swimming, Coventry University, by decision of the Academic Board, has the privilege of conferring the Degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa, on Jane Nickerson.”

Jane said in her acceptance speech: “A massive thank you to Coventry University for this honour which was totally unexpected but very much welcomed.

“I am particularly pleased to be here today to accept this honorary doctorate from the marvellous Coventry University because I am extremely proud to say that Coventry is home to me.

Stay true to yourself

“I’m a Coventry girl through and through. I was born in the city and spent all my formative years in the villages around the city and whilst I have been fortunate to travel and even live abroad for a brief spell it’s definitely true what they say about there being no place like home.

Jane said she hoped her career would act as an inspiration to the students now graduating.

She said: “Certainly, and I count myself very fortunate, when I look back at my career I have earned a living from swimming, the sport I have loved since childhood.

“This career followed 20 years in the hospitality industry where I learnt so much about people, about ensuring people had a positive experience during their stay and an overriding lesson about sales – in so far as you have to maximise every opportunity.

“I took these lessons into my current career in sport as sport is a business.

“It hasn’t always been easy and happily things are improving, but certainly there weren’t that many women working in sport, particularly in the higher levels of organisations, when I began my career.

“I hope that in some small way I have demonstrated there is a route to career progression.

“So my message to you, and in particular the ladies in the audience, is don’t just look to join an organisation, aim to be running organisations.

“More importantly, stay true to yourself.

“I am sure your time at Coventry will stand you in good stead as you make your way in the world in your chosen professions.

“Congratulations again on your graduation and I wish each and every one of you the very best for the future.

“Thank you once again for this great honour – I am truly humbled.”