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May 2018 State of the Club News

May 2018 Presidents Address to the Club

I must confess to some mixed emotions in welcoming the tardy arrival of spring; this year, in particular. Don’t get me wrong, am thrilled to enjoy the warm weather and finally, there have been some solid nice days.  Tonight as I sit outside thinking about what to report to you on the state of affairs of the club, there is just an amazing warm night breeze that I haven’t felt in well…a year.  But, excited as I am for the change in season, it reminds me sharply that my days as a swim club parent are numbered.  How is that possible?  Was only yesterday that my own 8 or 9 year old daughter joined the club and dove awkwardly into lane 1.  I remember so vividly, watching from the balcony at her first swim meet, holding my breath as she swam the first race of her life- the 25 yard butterfly (really!).  Almost painful to watch.  Those arms never came out of the water.  The only arm we saw was from the white-shirt Official calling a quick DQ.  Didn’t matter in the least; she made it all the way to the far end of the pool and we could not have been more proud.

So it’s bitter-sweet to realize, Rosemary and I only have two seasons left as swim club parents.  One day they are contorted, pee-wee swimmers, bobbing for apples in an attempted butterfly stroke, and then blink, standing tall at a podium, all grown up, ready to address the club as graduating seniors.  The night of our annual banquet is really a very special night.  I want to share a short excerpt from an essay written by one of our winners of this year's  annual scholarship: 

"From the time of my first meet, swimming has taught me many important life lessons. One of the most useful things I have learned is perseverance. You are going to have many races in your life and they might not all be your best swim ever, but you have to push through the bad times and get back in the water and train again for your next shot at victory.  This is a lesson I plan on taking with me because in life when something is difficult, you can’ t give up. You have to find a way to make yourself stronger in order to overcome the difficulty".  

                                                                                                             --- Abrianna Gittschau

 Well said AG.

So let me report. This was a solid year.  The club seems to be healthy and thriving.  We knocked off some actions items which have been on our list for far too long.  We started the year by looking at our bylaws and getting them current with how we operate as club today.  Some of the old bylaws referred to committees which were decades old; the rules just needed a fresh look and at best a cosmetic facelift.  The best time to review the rules is when things are calm; which I am happy to report is our state of affairs today.  

We also spent a modest amount of money replacing our starter equipment and some other fairly inexpensive, but necessary IT upgrades. We had some technical challenges on deck this past season, but with the expertise of both Tom Gdula and our own club Maverick, Paul Femano, I think we got these problems licked.

The next major item to check off the “to do” list was to examine coaches’ pay and create much overdue job descriptions.  It is fair to say NONE of these coaches are in the sport for the money!  When we looked at some of the pay; it was almost embarrassing to find we were hovering just above minimum wage.  So we made some very modest adjustments, created a tier job description system and installed an annual review process.  We also named Kristen Snyder as First Assistant Coach and gave her a salary instead of an hourly wage.  In addition to her coaching duties, Kristen does so much for the club behind the scenes that candidly putting her on salary was likely a brilliant economic move ; kudos board members!  Seriously, we are so lucky to have such an outstanding coaching staff; led at the helm by YOB!  He is such a strong, silent leader and a solid role model to all our kids.

Financially the club is in excellent shape.  We have a positive balance sheet and a decent rainy day fund.  We may have to dip into the fund again briefly this summer for temporary pool rentals since brace yourself…yes, the pool deck is going to be resurfaced  again…for maybe the 11th time!!!  No firm dates yet, but we should only be down for about a week, maybe in June.  Will share details as they become available.  We also have a new Treasurer, Dave Johnson.  You may remember Dave spearheaded our lottery this year which was a solid fund raiser for the club and the club members!  We are going to do this again next year, likely in December, so think future stocking stuffers.

This seems like a good time to report on the election of Officers held at the board’s recent May meeting.  Officers of the Corporation serve for a one year term and for the 2018-2019 year will be:

  •  President – Ted Smith
  • Vice-President – Pete Fitzgerald
  •  Treasurer – Dave Johnson
  • Secretary – Kristine Blumer

Big thanks to our departing Treasurer, Liz Ivery, for doing a heroic job getting our financial systems in place and handing off the reins in such a professional fashion.  Paul Femano also stepped down as VP, to make room for some new blood in a leadership position, but we are lucky to still have him on the board.

While we had an overwhelming positive year at the club, we were not immune to some problems both on and off the pool deck.  This past year the board did receive more than one report of bullying or inappropriate swimmer behavior.  Some horseplay and immaturity for sure; some more serious which needed attention.  Safety continues to be our number one priority; a concern which is reinforced constantly by both the Niagara LSC and USA Swimming.  We think we have some good systems in place for dealing with these concerns; please pay attention to the Safe Sport announcements which are sent out monthly. Know if anyone ever has a concern, please feel free to come forward to a coach, parent, board member or our Safe Sport Coordinator.

Another area we needed to tweak in recent weeks was to make a price adjustment to our College Swimmer program.  Earlier in the season we made some pricing changes which disproportionately affected a small number of returning college swimmers resulting in a dramatic rate increase over the year’s previous level.   When this was brought to the attention of the board, we recognized the inequity and wrestled with how to quantify the number of days college swimmers would be in the pool.  We weren’t really able to do so accurately, but quickly realized we wanted to have an open door to these alums.  In many ways our returning swimmers help raise the competitive level of the club and we quickly repriced this class to let all know they are welcome!

There are a number of things still to come in this year. 

Appropriately, our own five star General and returning board member, Scott Zapisek, will be organizing our annual participation in the Camillus Memorial Day Parade.  He expects a full turnout, particularly from the older swimmers – so BE ON NOTICE – Maddy,  Mikki, Matt, Maggie, Ryan, Grace, and others -  Scott Zapisek is coming for you! 

We are also working on a survey to solicit club feedback and ideas.   Look for this in June.   The big push over the next few months will be gearing up for our Volunteer Leadership Recruitment campaign in the fall. Stay tuned for details.

Last cool item.  We just approved purchase of an underwater GoPro camera to be used in the pool by the coaching staff which should be great for feedback on stroke technique. Good things are happening. Perfect time to volunteer….

Veni. Natavi. Vici.

Ted Smith

Club President