LGBT Masters Aquatics Club

Club Members Handbook

March 2014

Welcome

Welcome to Out To Swim!

We are glad that you have decided to join our club. Out To Swim has a rich history going back to 1992, and we hope that you will play your part in building on that history. The purpose of this handbook is to introduce you to the club, including how it is managed. Being a not for profit organisation run by volunteers, there are also important principles of trust and responsibility to each other, that we hope this handbook makes clear.

We wish you many happy years as an active member of Out To Swim.

Constitutional Aims, Mission & Vision

At this point, it is worth remembering our constitutional aims, our mission and our vision:

Constitutional Aims: 

  • To promote participation in aquatic sports among lesbian women, gay men and friends of our community, including masters Swimming and Water polo, both of which are integral parts of the club;
  • To provide an atmosphere where gay and non-gay athletes can practice together in mutual understanding and support;
  • To provide an opportunity for athletes of all abilities to participate in organised practices and competitions in a team atmosphere and so to achieve their own goals in their aquatic sports and;
  • Make visible the contribution of lesbian and gay people to all aspects of swimming/ aquatic sports and to oppose all forms of homophobia, sexism and racism in the sport.

Out To Swim Swimming Club is an equal opportunities club. Membership will not be restricted on grounds of gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, religion, HIV status or any other basis.

Mission:

To be the best aquatics Masters club in the UK. LGBT people will be able to access all five aquatics disciplines from beginners to elite levels, receive the highest quality coaching and be enabled to achieve their potential. We will offer a supportive and sociable environment to our members, and will also run activities to reach out to under-represented sections of our community. We will do all this with style and flair.

Vision:

Out To INSPIRE. Out To WIN. Out To SWIM.

How is Out To Swim run?

A key outcome of the Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) is the election by club members of the Out To Swim Committee from among the membership. All paid up members can be nominated for committee positions in these annual elections.

The Out To Swim committee is the governing body of Out To Swim and the core structure of the committee, including individual roles and responsibilities, is outlined in Out To Swim’s constitution. Committee positions are entirely voluntary and all committee members continue to pay club dues even though they may be sacrificing a significant amount of their own free time to help run the club. It is incumbent on all club members to support the committee as much as possible, recognising that being a committee member can be a thankless task!

Out To Swim’s constitution is the club’s governing document (also sometimes referred to as the “Club Rules”). Our constitution has been structured to be compliant with the requirements of the Amateur Swimming Association (“ASA”), the umbrella organisation to which Out To Swim is affiliated. We provide further information on the ASA later on in this Handbook.

At all times, all club members are expected to abide by the constitution and by all in-force policies and procedures as agreed by the committee. Indeed, you agreed to this when you signed up to be a member of the club.

The constitution, along with other important documents and procedures can be found on the club’s website. We strongly recommend that you take some time now to familiarise yourself with all of these documents and procedures. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions of other committee members wherever you’re not clear about something. We would particularly highlight the following policies as a starting point:

  • The club constitution
  • The complaints and grievance procedure
  • The communications policy
  • The club policy on disability and mental health
  • The incident reporting policy.

Playing your part

Once you have been with the club for a while, you may feel that you would like to offer to help out and give back to the club. This might mean that you allow yourself to be nominated for a committee position at the next AGM. But there are countless other ways that you could also help out, including:

  • Taking the register of swimmers and/or water polo players before sessions.
  • Helping out with the organisation of relay teams at competitions.
  • Helping out with the arrangement of a social event.
  • Helping out as an official at a club or ASA competition (such as GLLAM, Out To Swim’s own regular competition).
  • Offering your administrative services to specific members of the committee, such as the club secretary or the IT representative.
  • Offering your design skills to help with some new club kit.
  • Offering your skills whenever the committee establishes a sub-committee to undertake a specific task.
  • Generally encouraging other swimmers both in and out of the water, including getting as many people as possible to competitions.

Speak to a committee member if you think you would like to help out. It may be that there is no immediate need for your skills, but it is always good for the committee to be aware of what skills are available from within the club.

The Club and the ASA

The Amateur Swimming Association (“ASA”) is the national organisation for masters swimming and water polo in the UK.  Out To Swim is an affiliated club of the ASA, which brings a number of important benefits including the right to participate in ASA-approved swimming and water polo competitions/ league matches.  The ASA also arranges the club’s insurance policies.

There are several regional divisions of the ASA and our region is “London Swimming”. The relationship between the club and London Swimming is very important to ensure that we are compliant with ASA rules in relation to our policies and procedures.

The ASA code of ethics is the basis for the behaviour and conduct of all club members. The latest code of ethics can be found on the ASA’s website

In the normal course of Out To Swim’s activities, certain statements in the ASA Code of Ethics are not directly relevant, since as a Masters swimming club we do not have any members under the age of 18.  However, for completeness, we have listed the current ASA code of ethics down below in their entirety (correct as of March 2015).

ASA Code of Ethics

All individuals within the ASA aquatic disciplines will at all times:

  • Respect the rights, dignity and worth of every person, be they adult or child, treating everyone equally within the context of the sport.
  • Respect the spirit of the sport adhering to the rules and laws in and out of the pool, incorporating the concept of friendship and respect for others.
  • Promote the positive aspects of the sport and never condone the use of inappropriate or abusive language, inappropriate relationships, bullying, harassment, discrimination or physical violence.
  • Accept responsibility for their own behaviour and encourage and guide all ASA members and parents of junior members to accept responsibility for their own behaviour and conduct.
  • Ensure all concerns of a child safeguarding nature are referred in accordance with Wavepower (ASA Child Safeguarding Policy and Procedures).
  • Conduct themselves in a manner that takes all reasonable measures to protect their own safety and the safety of others.
  • Promote the reputation of the sport and never behave or encourage or condone others to behave in a manner that is liable to bring the sport into disrepute.
  • Adhere to Wavepower the ASA Child Safeguarding Policy and Procedures.
  • Adhere to the ASA Anti-Doping Rules.
  • Adhere to the ASA Equity Policy.
  • Adhere to the ASA Laws and Regulations.
  • Adhere to the ASA Codes of Conduct.

This is a general “umbrella” code and is supplemented by the ASA Codes of Conduct, which can be found in Wavepower 2009/11 under section 2, page 68 – 71.

The Board of the ASA formally adopted this new Code of Ethics at the ASA Board meeting held on the 27th November 2009.

The Coaches and Teachers Team

Out To Swim activities would not be possible without the dedication of our coaches and teachers team.  We all need to play our part in ensuring that we enable the coaches and teachers team to provide us with an enjoyable swimming and/or water polo experience.

In particular, whenever you are engaged in a club aquatic activity, it is essential that you always follow the instructions of your coach and teacher, since s/he is qualified and experienced in many aspects of health and safety.

Health & Safety

Out To Swim is responsible for ensuring there are adequate policies, procedures and good practices in place across the club to protect the health and safety of all members, and of any third parties who may be present during our activities. To that end, we try to work only with swimming pools and venues that have an established “Emergency Action Plan”, and which also undertake health and safety risk assessments on a regular basis.

As a club, we have a responsibility to each other to ensure that we stay safe in all that we do, both in and out of the water. As a club member, if you are concerned about any health and safety issues, then please speak to a coach or teacher, or to a member of the committee.

Club History

Out To Swim was originally formed in 1992 with the express purpose of sending a masters swimming team to the 1994 Gay Games in New York. We have sent a team to almost every Gay Games since (Gay Games is held every four years). We are well known for putting on a good show at the “Pink Flamingo” extravaganza held at the end of each Gay Games!

The early nineties was a very different time for LGBT sport and certainly the Out To Swim team was seen as something of a curiosity whenever we first started arriving (and winning!) at both national and international competitions. We were the first LGBT competitive swimming club in Great Britain and we still are the only such club in the south of England.

Swimming successes over the years include:

  • Paralympic Games including Atlanta 1996 (two silver medals), Sydney 2000 (two silver medals) and Athens 2004 (one gold medal). 
  • UK Masters records for 50m fly and 100m fly
  • Medals in the World Masters Championships, including world records in 50 fly and 100 front crawl
  • Team Relays – Out To Swim won several world masters records at Gay Games 2010 in Cologne
  • Irish Masters records.

In 2001, our water polo team was established, known as London Orca. London Orca’s consistent involvement in local league matches has raised the profile of LGBT sport in the water polo world.

In 2009, we established the UK’s first (predominantly) male synchronised swimming team, the Angels.  The Angels have enjoyed success at international LGBT competitions.

Over the years, Out To Swim members have taken up various key positions in umbrella LGBT organisations including:

  • Co-president(s) of the Federation of Gay Games
  • Chair and founder of Out For Sport in the UK
  • Board member(s) of International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (“IGLA”).

In 2009, Out To Swim began its own aquatic competition, GLLAM (Gay & Lesbian London Aquatic Meet), which in 2014 was held at the London Aquatic Centre, attracting competitors from ASA clubs all over the country.

Out To Swim raises the profile of LGBT people across the more general swimming population by competing in meets throughout the UK, both locally (e.g. Barnet Copthall meets) and nationally (e.g. Welsh Masters). Out To Swim has always prioritised the ASA October national masters (short course) competition in its calendar, seeing it as an opportunity for members to participate in a major national competition.

Out To Swim has a range of qualified officials who volunteer their services at Masters and other swimming events. Members have also participated in the running of the sport by sitting on various Middlesex committees including the Masters Committee, which has been chaired by at least three different Out To Swim members.

In September 2009, two Out To Swim teams successfully completed a cross channel swim in 13 hours, 30 minutes and 12 hours, 55 minutes respectively. Members have also competed in the swim around Manhattan Island.

At Out To Swim’s 20th anniversary party in 2012, the ballroom of a London hotel was packed out with current and former members.  There was not time during the evening for people to fully express their appreciation for Out To Swim and how it has changed their lives for the better.

Appendices

The purpose of the appendices is to provide more detailed guidance on specific issues.  These normally relate to particular disciplines within Out To Swim, such as water polo or swimming.

Pool Etiquette

To make everyone’s swim as rewarding and carefree as possible we've come up with 12 Golden Rules to happiness whilst swimming in a session:

  1. Listen to the coach and always do as the coach says.
  2. Swim in order of speed: fastest first, slowest last (this may change depending on stroke and/or distance). Please constantly check your position in the lane. If swimmers are bunched up behind you, be prepared to drop back.
  3. Change lanes if necessary or whenever asked to do so by the coach. Swimmers are put into lanes according to speed.
  4. If you want to overtake, tap the swimmer in front on the foot. At the end of the lane they will wait for you to swim past. But make your intention clear. The swimmer in front may reasonably assume that you just got too close.
  5. If somebody taps on your foot to overtake, finish the length you are swimming and be prepared at the end of the lane to stand aside (in the corner of the lane) to allow a swimmer to pass you. Stay on the side you came from, not where you'd be going (so when swimming in a clockwise direction, you will wait on the left side, as people will make a turn at the right side).
  6. If you stop at the end of the lane, wait for a large enough space to continue. Do not set off just as another swimmer is coming in to the end of the lane to turn.
  7. When you finish the set distance move to the right (if swimming clockwise, left if anti-clockwise) to allow swimmers behind a good finish at the wall. Always swim to the wall – don’t stop or turn before the wall – and if people are in your way then remind them to make room.
  8. Leave at least 5 seconds between swimmers, 10 seconds if the lane is not too crowded. Leave 3 seconds only where specifically requested by the coach.
  9. Swimming fly –be aware of people coming the other way.
  10. Swim the set specified by the coach and don’t swim a different stroke to everyone else (unless choice of stroke has been set by the coach).
  11. If you are new to club swimming, please start at the back of your allocated lane – you can always work your way up in time.  Remember to listen to advice from more experienced swimmers.
  12. Keep smiling!