From the age of three years old when I first took to the water, swimming has always played a huge role in my life. In the past 15 years, I have swum competitively and trained for my county, held the role of Girls’ Club Captain and become a regular volunteer at my local swimming club.
Why I volunteer
Volunteering as a coach and events helper has allowed me to see sport from a perspective which I never even considered when I was an athlete. Prior to sitting on a Club Committee, I never knew how time consuming the logistics behind holding an Open Meet actually are: who knew you needed to recruit so many timekeepers, officials, water carriers, and general helpers to make one day run smoothly?!
Volunteering most importantly has provided me with transferable skills such as time management and communication skills, as well as friendships and memories which will last a life time.
Claim to fame
One of my favorite volunteering memories (and claims to fame!) occurred at the 2014 British Swimming Championships at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre. After being shown the ropes by more experienced staff, I had the opportunity to be a Heat Manager for the evening finals session.
This role entailed taking groups of swimmers from the call room, to their event. The timing, I was told, was crucial, as the session was being streamed on the internet, and the swimmers needed to be behind the blocks at the same time the cameras panned to the same position.
After a few heats of the semi-finals I got the hang of the procedure, and so did the swimmers: most of them had numerous events. However, not everything went quite to plan! Normally I wouldn’t have been too bothered, but in this instance the person making things tricky happened to be James Guy (pictured below).
Not looking too phased by the fact his race was less than three minutes away, he asked politely, “Can I please just nip to the toilet?”. Flustered, both in awe and the hilarity of the situation, I replied, red faced with embarrassment and bewilderment, “Your final is up next?!’.
His face fell slightly, as I then apologised profusely and sent the heat up to behind the blocks. Fortunately, (at least from what I remember) I’m pleased to say that denying him access to the toilet didn’t seem to affect his racing too much.
Memories to last a lifetime
My time spent at events across the country has provided me with an incredible opportunity to mix and mingle with people from all walks of life. Not only have I gained vital life skills which I would have most definitely missed out on, but the memories of situations which I’ve found myself in will last a lifetime.