In May 2017 we held our inaugural come and try multiclass swimming event at the South Australian Aquatic and Leisure Centre.
The event attracted around 20 swimmers and their families, along with 16 Marion Swimming Club swimmers, committee members and club parents. We believe that no other individual Australian swimming club has held a multiclass event of this size before.
We provided the attendees with information about multiclass swimming including the classification process. We then offered swimmers a chance to participate in races in all four strokes over distances of 25 metres or 50 metres depending on their abilities and confidence.
The races were conducted under full race conditions with electronic timing equipment operating and the swimmers enjoyed seeing their names and times on the electronic scoreboards.
The pool-events concluded with fun activities that involved Marion Swimming Club swimmers and then we offered hot food and a casual social gathering where children received a gift donated by our event sponsor. Those participating were later sent a certificate of participation that included their race times.
The day was a phenomenal success, due in no small part to the research and consultation conducted prior to holding the event. We gathered information from Swimming Australia’s website including its Multiclass Swimming Engagement Portal and had a number of discussions with staff from both Swimming Australia and Swimming SA.
Swimming Australia is actively expanding its multiclass swimming programs by promoting them to people with severe disabilities to show that they too can participate at the highest level of sport should they desire.
Marion Swimming Club has a strong reputation for working with people with disabilities. Our competition pool at the South Australian Aquatic and Leisure Centre is named the Matthew Cowdrey competition pool after Paralympian Matt Cowdrey who was a Marion Club swimmer.
We decided to hold an event promoting to the wider community that swimming is a sport for everyone.
Many disability agencies including Inclusive Sport SA shared our Facebook post advertising the event and as a result, many of the parents enquiring about the program commented that until then, they’d had no idea that their child, with practice, could go on to participate in a sport at such a high level given their disability.
The number of swimmers participating in our event made it one of the largest of its type in Australia.
We have since had many requests for swimming lessons and two new members have joined our club. A number of other participants in the come and try event have gone on to join swimming clubs in their own areas.