Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson explains why membership fees are so vital in these challenging times.
It’s the one topic that people have questioned me about more than any other on social media.
Why is Swim England not deferring its membership fees in 2021? Can we have a fee holiday until swimming competitions return? Why should I pay my fees this year?
The answers to all these questions are something we have pondered long and hard over, particularly as we recognise the difficult situation some members may find themselves in as a result of the pandemic’s impact on the economy.
As a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation, we are extremely reliant on the income we receive from membership fees to help fund our work.
It’s not an understatement to say that our membership income is critical to enable us to continue to support all aquatic sports.
We understand and sympathise with members who feel they have not had value for money as events have not taken place.
We want nothing more than to see you all in the pool, competing in galas and competitions and enjoying the sports you love so much.
However, your membership fees don’t just fund the cost of staging events.
Lobby and campaign
It funds the in-depth work we put in with industry partners and the Government to produce the guidance which supported the reopening of swimming pools following the first lockdown.
It means the Swim England team can continue to lobby and campaign, which has helped us successfully push for £100 million for leisure centres which will help safeguard the future of pools up and down the country used by our affiliated clubs.
Our focus is currently on pushing for pools to be reopened as soon as it is safe to do so across all tiers and for the resumption of club activities in all tiers for all members.
It funds the detailed support work we have given to clubs throughout this pandemic, through online land training sessions, fundraising webinars and virtual qualification courses for a range of roles.Join us and make your voice heard
Importantly, it also funds insurance, which remained in place throughout this period and covers virtual and land training sessions as well as in pool activities when we are allowed back in the water.
We are required to pay the insurance premium in February to ensure all our clubs and members remain covered and this is a very substantial item of expenditure.
I am often questioned whether membership fees fund the elite British Swimming athletes. Whilst they are fully funded by UK Sport, we consider many of them to be wonderful success stories of our Talent pathways – and we cannot wait to cheer them on in Tokyo.
The other membership fee questions I keep receiving are all valid and we recognise the challenges facing many of our clubs and members.
We are incredibly mindful of the impact Covid-19 continues to have on many people up and down the country.
Priceless to us
Therefore, we have frozen the cost of membership fees in 2021 but I hope our members can understand why we cannot go further.
As the national governing body for swimming, diving, artistic swimming and water polo, we have not been immune from the financial pressures of this pandemic.
It has had a significant impact on our finances and, last year, we had to take the extremely upsetting decision to restructure our organisation which led to 69 team members moving on from Swim England.
Without your continued support, we will face further severe financial challenges which will impact on our work.
As the vaccination process is rolled out across the country, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we can see a return to competitive action on the horizon.
We’re working on a programme of events which we hope will be able to take place in 2021 as the restrictions are eased.
In the meantime, Level X Racing will return when pools are allowed to reopen – and there is more exciting news about Level X for all our disciplines coming soon.
A category two membership, which all club members who wish to take part in Level X and our national competitions require, costs only £27.75 a year – the equivalent of around 53p a week.
Every penny of this is priceless to us and the future of your sports…