Swim Alberta Board and Staff had the opportunity during the week of June 19th to meet with Club Presidents in both Edmonton and Calgary, combined representing over 20 clubs, as well as members of the Alberta Coaches Council (ACC) executive and appointed members of the High Performance Advisory Committee (HPAC). The purpose of the meetings was to share information with regards to the Swim Alberta Strategic Plan, Financial Sustainability of Swim Alberta – including the future organizational structure; as well as an overview of the exploration of a High- Performance Strategy in Alberta.
In the first week of July we will hold a meeting with Head Coaches of the year-round affiliated clubs to walk through the information shared with Club Presidents and the ACC/HPAC.
Swim Alberta Strategic Plan
The development of the strategic plan included consultation with the membership and identified stakeholders/partners of Swim Alberta through a survey, community outreach sessions held in both Edmonton and Calgary, and interviews with identified partners including athletes.
Through the process, the Board of Swim Alberta re-visited the Vision and Mission of the Swim Alberta and set three key strategic directions to guide the work of the organization over the next two quadrennials.
- Provide program, services and support to maximize all aspects of competitive swimming.
- Lead and inspire a culture of professionalism.
- Create growth and life-long opportunities through an inclusive membership.
It was important that in order for the plan to succeed, that we identified what our Success would look like in 2024 through Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). “Organizations use KPIs at multiple levels”, says Swim Alberta President – Dean Schultz. “The KPI’s that are reflected in the strategic planning document, are high-level KPI’s that focus on the overall performance of Swim Alberta as it relates to the Strategic Directions and Priorities we have outlined to take us into 2024. In addition, staff and various operational committees will develop low-level KPI’s that focus on the success and performance of various initiatives, programs and services”. The final plan summary will be finalized by the Board of Swim Alberta at an upcoming board meeting in July, including the finalizing of Key Performance Indicators.
Financial Sustainability and Organizational Structure
In the fall of 2016, the Swim Alberta board undertook a financial sustainability review as a critical and necessary part of the strategic planning process. The review involved taking an in-depth look at our current financial picture, ensuring that we had funds in place to meet the needs of future programs and services as outlined in the strategic plan; and identifying and reducing financial risks to the organization.
Lloyd Schoepp, Treasurer – Swim Alberta acknowledges the vision of past board members and senior leadership staff in the steps they took to lay the solid financial foundation of Swim Alberta. “Through the establishment of a “rainy day” fund in 1991 as a legacy to the Pan Pacific Championships the ground work for establishing a healthy financial position of Swim Alberta was laid. Coupled with the current review, we are pleased to state that Swim Alberta is a fully sustainable organization with an assessment of ‘low financial risk’; with a sound financial position for current day operations; the ability to fund important future initiatives; and, having a plan in place to ensure programs and services are not disrupted in a crisis or un-expected event.”
As a result of this, there is no longer a need for the regions to be an affiliated body to Swim Alberta or for the regional structure to exist within our operating structure. Swim Alberta will work closely with the regional boards over the next several weeks to ensure this long-standing partnership is celebrated and supported as we wind down our reliance on their funding model.
Swim Alberta is committed to preserving the current programs, specifically the Junior Circuit meet program that is coordinated through the Southern Region – Swim Alberta. Kevin Dennis, Technical Coordinator will take a key lead in working with Southern Region Junior Circuit Coordinator to ensure this transition is successful.
Through the strategic planning process and consultation with the membership, a strong theme emerged with regards to performance and support of performance athletes in the province. Swim Alberta recognizes that in order to support performance we need to ensure we have an athlete pathway from development levels through to performance levels. We know that as a province we have a history of producing and supporting strong age group swimming. Statistics provided by Swimming Canada demonstrate that based on registration numbers we are actually “punching above our weight” with the accomplishments of age group, junior and next gen athletes. The identified gap in the province is ensuring we remain relevant and increase the number of Alberta swimmers on national teams and on the international podium.
Swim Alberta, through existing funding programs has established criteria, performance and accountabilities for Identified Performance Clubs in the province. “Our next step, says Cheryl Humphrey, Executive Director is to ensure we have a strategy in place that increases the stability of our performance club programs through supporting both coaches and the board leadership; creating a system, structure and program that support High Performance Swimming in Alberta with an identified athlete pathway that retains our best athletes the opportunity to continue to train in Alberta; and develop a system for identification of athletes and supporting both those athletes and their coaches through a collaborative relationship.”
At this point, Swim Alberta is exploring partnerships to ensure this strategy can become a reality in Alberta and will continue to meet with stakeholders and partners to ensure that athletes and their development pathway remain the focus of the initiative.