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Grassroots as important as Commonwealth Games says President-elect Jim

The ‘overwhelmed’ future President of Swim England insists the grassroots events he will be attending during his time in the prestigious role are just as important as the Commonwealth Games.

North West’s Jim Wilks will become Vice-President in May 2021 before taking on the ceremonial chain from the East Midlands’ Doug Whitlam 12 months later.

He has been involved in swimming for more than 30 years and has held a number of high-profile roles at club, county and regional level.

One of his first tasks when he takes on the role in 2022 will be attending the swimming and diving events at a home Commonwealth Games but Jim is also relishing the chance to watching all disciplines at all levels.

The President is usually nominated by the regions but during an Olympic or Commonwealth year, the Swim England board make the appointment.

This year, members were allowed to submit their own application providing it had been seconded by another Swim England member and included the names of five other Swim England members who supported the nomination

Jim was successfully chosen for the post following an interview process and admitted he was surprised to have been picked.

He said: “It was quite a shock but I’m proud and honoured – I was overwhelmed really.

“When you’re in the voluntary sector, becoming the President of the governing body is the pinnacle of your career and I’m very, very fortunate to have been selected.

“I’m looking forward to it – not only the main events but also supporting the local clubs and county and regional events as well in my capacity as Swim England President.

“Hopefully the Commonwealth Games will go ahead but the grassroots events are just as important. Without grassroots swimming, there would be no elite swimmers.

“All the disciplines are equally as important. My background is in swimming but I’m looking forward to supporting all the disciplines as well.”

Jim first got involved in the sport when his two sons, Daniel and Matthew, started swimming lessons.

Although he never swam competitively himself, Jim has been an active member of Warriors of Warrington Swimming Club where he is currently President, a role he has also held for Cheshire and the North West region.

“It all started for me as my sons decided they wanted to learn to swim,” he said. “It wasn’t too long before I could see all the benefits that swimming could bring, not just to the person swimming but the family as well.

“I saw the wider picture and what it gives to young people – dedication, team spirit, motivation, focus all sorts of life skills.

Always there for me

“Swimming is a sport for all, for all ages, all walks of life. It does not matter whether you can swim a length in a minute or 20 minutes, it’s for everyone.

“It’s a passion of mine. Everyone can take part, it’s something a family can take part in and enjoy together and that’s what I love about it.”

Jim will be supported in his time as President by his wife, Norma.

“She is absolutely brilliant,” said Jim. “She just takes all the hassle of everything for me.

“Norma is a great organiser with attention to detail. She is like my personal secretary! She will shoot me for saying that but it’s true.

“She looks after my diary, keeps me very organised and on time and I’m indebted to her for that.

“Norma enjoys coming along and being with the people we have met over the years and made friends with, not just in our region but nationally as well.

“She is always there for me.”

Sue Smith, the chair of the Swim England board, who was also on the selection panel, said Jim was a perfect fit for the role.

She said: “Jim has played a key role in swimming in the North West region for a number of years.

“We had a number of excellent candidates keen to take on the role but Jim stood out following an open recruitment and interview process.

“He is a well-known figure across the North-West region and beyond and I’m thrilled he will be our President in 2022.”

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