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CEO Message A lookback on 2020, New Year wishes and looking forward…

Swimming, Diving, Artistic Swimming , Water Polo, Education
National, Performance

A brief look back on 2020

2020 has come and gone, and it was arguably the most difficult year in our 123 year history.

So before I go any further I want to say Thank You for everything that you have done to support Aquatics in Wales. Whether you are a club volunteer, a development officer in a local authority partnership, a swim school owner/teacher or parents of one our dedicated swimmers/players you have helped us keep the Swim Wales vision alive over the last 12 months and for that we are extremely grateful.


2020 brought all of us many challenges. Together we faced things we never thought would be possible, and bad news dominated the airwaves. Amongst this uncertainty and chaos many individuals and organisations discovered new opportunities in these adverse times – I am delighted to say that Swim Wales was one of them. Early on in April 2020 our original objectives for 2020 were replaced with 3 very simple new ones;

  1. Protect Welsh Aquatics
  2. Prepare ourselves, our members and our partners for a very difficult period in our history
  3. Prevail in a new world post COVID 19

In the round, this focus has helped us all survive into 2021. Before the current lockdown (announced on December 20th) we had approx. 75% of all aquatic facilities open in Wales, 79% of our clubs were back in the water training and 74% of club membership (Vs last year) had registered with us through affiliated member clubs. We even managed to squeeze in our inaugural virtual event the SWIM WALES SUPER SERIES © with close to 19,000 swims recorded before Christmas.                    

Our sector and our sports finished the year in a relatively good place. We captured over 500,000 swims across Wales between September and December (total pool opening period including a 17 day firebreak) with little or no traceable infections linked to either clubs, swim schools or public sessions in leisure centres. This remarkable achievement was delivered through wide scale use of our published guidance (11 user groups) and a professional attitude to public safety across our clubs and facilities – Well done to everyone who contributed. These strong safety numbers have given us a great platform for our discussions with health officials and policy makers at Welsh Government, which we returned to on a call this week.

Best wishes for 2021

As we start a New Year and a new decade, on behalf of our staff and board of Directors I would like to wish all of you a safe and successful 2021. We sincerely hope that the next 12 months brings you all better times, and ultimately a safe, secure and free world where everyone can return to the normal things in life without fear or restrictions.

As a collective we have maintained our resilience during very tough times, and this has strengthened our resolve to fight against the odds and to ensure that the great water based activities/sports that we love come ‘out the other side’. Our focus on engagement and communication throughout this period has created value for many people and this will be the foundation for the many activities and projects at Swim Wales over the next 12 months.

Looking forward to 2021

We have high expectations for 2021 at Swim Wales. Externally, our planning is underway with Welsh Government & Sport Wales for another (hopefully permanent) return to sport in early 2021. We are following every governmental decision closely and will update our stakeholders through our monthly partner sessions and communication platforms. A select number of sports have been shortlisted for pilot events in early 2021 involving participants, officials and spectators and I’m pleased to say that Swim Wales is one of them.

Internally, we have plans to launch the Swim Wales 2.0 website with an improved interface and more engaging content. The development team are in the process of introducing a member’s portal for both new and existing membership categories, and we will be launching a new membership system this year which will help support our 11 users groups with content training, support documentation all updated and tailored based on our annual surveys and consultation.

2021 will also see the roll out of our newly created ‘Values & Behaviours’ which have been developed with input from our board, staff, clubs and partners. Closely linked to this, will be our continued work on diversity and inclusivity in Aquatics in Wales, with the introduction of our new advisory group made up of people from minority ethnic groups and diverse backgrounds.

Elite activity will ramp up for our athletes and national teams over the coming months, with focus on Team GB selection. The British Championships and British Para Swimming International will hopefully take place in London and Sheffield respectively in April. We have invested 4+ years in this process and have high hopes for Welsh representation.

Until next time, please take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

I know that we’re going to get through this, together.

Fergus Feeney

Chief Executive Officer, Swim Wales

Director, British Swimming