Strong and effective leadership in swimming clubs will determine the success or otherwise of the club and its athletes.

The coach is an essential leader within a swimming club and will often provide guidance to the club’s committee members, parents and swimmers.

What makes a good leader?

Leaders have:

1. An Uncompromising Integrity

This is arguably the most important quality. All other leadership characteristics stand on this steel-reinforced concrete foundation.  Your personal and professional integrity must be the same.  Integrity includes acting with honesty and respecting the right of fair process for all.  Times were fair process is critical include the selection of swimmers into squads and into relay teams at competitions. Coaches need to maintain confidentiality and respect those whom they deal with. Coaches should behave with honour and impartiality at all times.

2. Strong Leadership Skills

This seems like an obvious one, but what are these leadership skills that coaches need. Coaches need to be approachable and consistent when dealing with swimmers, parents, colleagues and officials. They should always apply a fair process when making decisions and communicate these in the appropriate manner. Coaches need to strongly commit to the values of the organisation. As the spiritual and physical leader of the Club, if the coach consistently displays these values, then members will follow. Coaches will inspire participation and commitment through a shared vision. It is important that all members know what the vision is so that they can also contribute towards it.

3. High Energy

Retaining a high level of energy is vital for swimming coaches. Working in the early mornings and afternoons can be a challenge so it is important to look after yourself between sessions.  To retain high energy you will need to avoid petty issues because they drain you.  eg. a parent who continually demands attention and becomes a waste of time and energy because they don’t listen to you.  As a coach it is important to know the difference between interesting and important and then only concentrate on what is truly important.

Stay energized throughout each day and week.  Look after your body both emotionally and physically. Your staying power over a period of time is important.  Some coaches start their day or week with a rush then fade away towards the end of it. Having a high level energy throughout it critical to being successful.


3. Are good at working priorities

Setting priorities is one thing, working them is another skill altogether. Often the ability to work on a priority is the difference between a dreamer or gunna and a doer.  Prioritise everything you do and then stick to these. Ensure you remain focused for all your number 1 priorities, regardless of the difficulty, everyday.

4. Surround themselves with like-minded people

A good leader will surround themselves with the right people and this is especially important in a swimming club. Successful coaches will build relationships with their coaching staff and members of the club’s committee.

If you need to identify parents for the club’s committee, look for positive like-minded people who share similar goals for your club. Look for people with positive energy, who think strategically and can look at the big picture.

Be visible around your club, communicate with clarity and with regularity to all the persons in your club that you are responsible for.

You need a variety of people to help run a swimming club. Invariably the success of a club comes down to the time and commitment put in by a group of volunteers. Within this group you need a combination of skills including many doers, who get things done.