Swimming SA: status report

Sports, Arts and Culture

15 November 2017
Chairperson: Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

Swimming South Africa (SSA) briefed the Committee on its governance, transformation, financials and sponsorship, programmes including development and school programmes and preparation for upcoming international events. The presentation from SSA highlighted issues of governance, transformation, sponsorship, programmes and preparation for the upcoming events. The SSA Strategy for 2017 to 2020 was centered on High Performance and without dedicated fulltime staffing of this important portfolio, the performances in the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) World Championships 2017 and 2019, and the Commonwealth Games 2018, would not produce the required results to carry the federation forward to the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. The report noted in terms of alignment with geopolitical boundaries, that eight provinces aligned its districts, but only the Western Cape Province has not yet aligned. The Western Cape Province was looking to align by February or March 2018.

SSA’s overall objective on transformation was to ensure that aquatic sport was accessible, representative of and responsive to the needs of all South Africans, and this could be achieved by ensuring that SSA and its affiliated membership promote aquatic sport. In terms of School Sport, the primary focus at schools should be that every learner should be water safe and only if this was achieved could programmes such as swimming, water polo, synchronized swimming and diving take place.

Members welcomed the presentation, but raised concerns about its content which did not correspond with what was written on the document, implying that the report was misleading. They made comments and asked questions of clarity which included what the relationship was between SSA and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)? In line with its transformation agenda, why were there such few female members at SSA? Who were SSA’s sponsors? What was SSA doing in terms of developing swimming in rural areas because the report focused only in urban areas? How was SSA integrating people with disability, elderly people and communities at large in terms of swimming because it only talked of developing swimming in schools? Was there any research being done by SSA to develop swimming in rural areas?

Meeting report

Election of the Acting Chairperson

The Committee Secretary said that in terms of the rules of Parliament in the absence of the Chairperson of the Committee in the meeting, the Committee must elect an Acting Chairperson. She requested Members of the Committee to make nominations for the election of the Committee Chairperson.

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) nominated Mr S Ralegoma to be the Acting Chairperson of the Committee.

Mr D Bergman (DA) nominated Mr T Mhlongo (DA) to be the Acting Chairperson of the Committee.

The Secretary put the matter on a vote because there were 2 nominations on the table.

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) said he withdrew from the process of Acting Chairperson.

The Committee elected Mr Ralegoma (ANC) as the Acting Chairperson of the Committee.

Swimming South Africa (SSA)

Mr Alan Fritz, President, Swimming South Africa (SSA), thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present the status report of SSA. The presentation outline would focus on governance in the organization, transformation, financial and sponsorship, programmes (which included development and school programmes) and finally, the preparation for international events.

Mr Shaun Adriaanse, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SSA, said that in terms of governance, there was financial stability in the organization. SSA revised its constitution in November 2015, to be aligned with the constitution of the country. He said that SSA reviewed its High-Performance Structure in its present format and was not delivering the necessary programmes in order to meet the requirements for the quadrennial. The SSA Strategy for 2017 to 2020 was centered on High Performance and without dedicated fulltime staffing of this important portfolio, the performances in the FINA World Championships 2017 and 2019, and the Commonwealth Games 2018, would not produce the required results to carry the Federation forward to the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.

Mr Adriaanse said that in terms of alignment with geopolitical boundaries, eight provinces aligned its districts, but only the Western Cape Province had not yet aligned. The Western Cape Province was looking to align by February or March 2018.

In terms of transformation, Mr Adriaanse said that SSA’s overall objective on transformation was to ensure that aquatic sport was accessible to, representative of, and responsive to the needs of all South Africans, and this could be achieved by ensuring that SSA and its affiliated membership promote aquatic sport that was accessible, representative and responsive.

The outcomes of this included:

  • An organisation framework which was representative;

  • SSA engages with all tiers of Government to ensure support and integration into their programmes;

  • SSA actively promotes school aquatic sport;

  • SSA actively promotes disabled aquatic sport; and

  • Manage Eminent Persons Group (EPG) Transformation Targets and reporting.

Mr Adriaanse said that in terms of School Sport, the primary focus at schools should be that every learner should be water safe and only if this was achieved then the programmes such as swimming, water polo, synchronized swimming and diving could take place. Unlike many other sport activities, facilities were key to aquatic initiative and without proper administration, whether school or municipality, there could be no progress. Areas where there were functioning facilities should be identified and all available resources to be directed there, so that some level of success could be measured. A possible source of finance would come from the annual national schools’ competition, which could be made available to initiate these school programmes.

Mr Adriaanse said that the inclusion of disability swimming within their domestic programmes was a major success. They would have to continue to build on these programmes and increase the access to athletes with disabilities into their programmes throughout the country. He said that the EPG was a National Government initiative set-up to monitor the progress of transformation within each of the sports. This process required that a monitoring system be set-up between SSA and the Provincial Associations to ensure that the agreed transformation targets and the feedback of data was maintained. In terms of the mass participation programme, Mr Adriaanse said that the main strategic objective of this programme was to increase and retain the number of participants actively involved in aquatic sports.

Regarding the water safety awareness, the water safety education was a classroom based tool used to equip children, communities and South Africans at large with the necessary knowledge regarding aquatics and the environment. Water safety education emphasised the importance of being safe in and around water.

Mr Adriaanse said that in terms of the learn to swim programme, the focus of this component was to provide swimming lessons to children at municipal swimming pools. Qualified instructors would be identified and placed at each swimming pool to provide practical swimming lessons to the school children targeted in the water safety programme. He said that the focus on adult participation was to encourage the participation of adults in aquatic activities, in support of Government’s drive for a Healthy and Active nation. Those adults that were active competitively in any of the aquatic disciplines should be encouraged to return to the sport as master athletes or to be active in coaching, teaching or any technical side of the sport.

Mr Adriaanse said that their main challenges in swimming were financial constraints which included:

  • Short term rationalization of programmes;

  • Medium and long-term performance of swimming athletes;

  • Long term sustainability of swimming athletes;

  • Current resources which amounted to R17 million versus required resources of about R36 million.

The other challenge SSA was facing was the issue of facilities, which had a serious negative impact on transformation.

Mr Adriaanse concluded noting that in 2008, they had the largest number of Olympic A qualifiers. One of the critical factors which supported this success was that SSA was being funded by Telkom and they had sufficient funds to send many athletes to compete on a regular basis at a high international level. Currently, the only competitions where all athletes came to compete in were the SA Junior Nationals and SA Senior Nationals. SSA’s strategy was to provide high level competitions locally. The aim of the Grand Prix Series was to get athletes race fit prior to Senior Nationals. The Top Province Competition in July was comprised of two athletes per event, giving those athletes who could not afford to travel oversees a top competition when their Senior Team was racing internationally.

He said that the SA Junior Short Course was to provide 10 to 15-year-old athletes with a national competition at the end of macro cycle May to August, which would encourage junior athletes to train more regularly in winter and get used to racing end of July to August, when all major international competitions were held. He added that the work with schools was to establish a competition programme that would bridge school swimming with SSA swimming, that was, events were Olympic events and top school athletes were then invited to participate in SSA events. The introduction of the National Age Group programmme was where throughout the country, every province would host a competition with the same event being swum at the same day in each province.


Mr Mhlongo welcomed the presentation, but was concerned in terms of the way the presentation was done which needed improvement. For example, in the Board of Management there were a few female members; there was no diversity in terms of gender. He asked with regards to the issue of transformation, what the status quo was currently because in 2014 the focus was on black African only. He asked in terms of the income expenditure of R98 million, which he felt was a contradiction. There had to be clear understanding in terms of the amounts. He asked for the names of the sponsors of SSA, and a breakdown of its grants.

Mr Bergman asked with regard to transformation, what the split was between female and male athletes and whether SSA financed any of these athletes. He praised the SABC for the individual sponsorship of athletes, but asked whether there was any sponsorship for the team.

Mr M Mabika (NFP) noted that now the constitution of SSA was aligned with the Constitution of the country, but asked why it took so long for the SSA constitution to be aligned to the South African Constitution; when did they actually align it and what specific areas were not aligned to the country's Constitution.

Mr Mabika noted a concern in terms of rural swimming development which had a slow pace because the report only mentioned 16 swimming development centres which were located in urban areas in five provinces; that was eight in Gauteng, four in KwaZulu-Natal, two in Mpumalanga, and one development centre both in Free State and North West. There were no swimming development centres in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and Limpopo. He asked whether SSA was making an effort for a rural child to be developed and be able to participate in swimming because rural children also had to be exposed in swimming so that fatalities of children drowning in dams were minimized.

Ms D Manana (ANC) emphasized the issue of transformation noting that the sporting codes had to be transformed in the deep rural areas because children there were denied participating in swimming. Also, SSA had to work hard in terms of sponsorship because sport was uniting people in this country.

Ms Manana was concerned that the table of content of the report did not correspond with the rest of the report. it seemed as it was misleading in some aspects of the report because it did not relate to the Strategy 2020 as indicated in the report. She noted that the development centres only focused on schools with facilities, there was no development taking place to those schools without facilities, which went back to the issue of the need for sponsorship whereby SSA would be able to build those facilities if it received sponsorships from private donors. It was therefore important and crucial for SSA to have a plan on sponsorship.

Ms Abrahams raised a concern with the by-laws document of SSA where she noted missing numbers that did not correspond with the whole document. She asked how SSA incorporated children in new schools, how it taught an ordinary child to swim, how successful was recruiting and what ratio they were using in this regard? How did SSA incorporate people with disability and the elderly in its development centres or were there age limits for swimming? How did the community at large participate in the swimming development centres if SSA only focused on schools?

She asked for an explanation in terms SSA budget of R36 million with current resources of R17 million. She asked how SSA ensured that ordinary people participated in the Gala Event.

Ms B Dlomo (ANC) emphasized the issue of transformation noting that there should be transformation in terms of women representation in SSA. She also emphasized the issue of rural development in terms of swimming and the inclusion of elderly and disable people in the programmes of SSA.

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) asked whether there was any kind of research that was done by SSA on how much it required for the development of swimming in rural areas, because if nothing was done in rural areas this would have a negative impact for the country.

The Chairperson noted that the development plan, given the challenges of facilities, did not mention major centres in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, but only mentioned Johannesburg and Polokwane. He asked what the pipeline was of the development plan given the challenges of facilities. He asked with regard to transformation, how many affiliates SSA had given the challenges in geopolitical alignment in the Western Cape; how many were compliant.

Mr Fritz apologized for the poor documentation and promised that the right documents would be forwarded to the Committee.

Mr Fritz said that that he was proud in terms of their governance and for what SSA achieved so far in swimming. But in terms of leadership, it was under-represented in terms of women. There were three women on the executive. The representation of these women met SSA’s standards, but it was not quite where they wanted it to be. Going further down the structure, there were a number of women presidents in their affiliates, and throughout their affiliates women were slightly under-represented but there was lot of women representation.

Mr Fritz said that in terms of SSA’s developmental aspect for swimming, "learn to swim" was its flagship and the report did not do justice in terms of the information given to the Committee. It was very difficult to try and put everything into the report. Maybe SSA should report more than once a year to the Committee, even if it was just allowing the Committee to receive information. For the sake of the Committee, if it wanted to follow the developmental aspect, SSA put together a programme on SABC at 10:00am, every Saturday, which was directly focused at Swimming South Africa.

He said that in the Learn to Swim environment, there were four aspects: Rural Splash; Ocean Splash; Portable programme; and Training of Officials. SSA looked at what was done in Jozini, KwaZulu-Natal, and certainly in Esikhaweni area in terms of development, and in Port Elizabeth where there would be massive Splash Polo teaching children to be water safe. There was also a programme being held in Sun City. And therefore, it went throughout the country from the Ocean Splash point of view. In rural areas SSA had a very big drive, right from Limpopo because people were out of Gauteng and might migrate back in holiday times to go to the coast. SSA would make sure that the Committee received a systematic calendar where the events were taking place, and SSA would highly appreciate if Members attended some of the events. Splash Polo was found in the Western Cape beaches, Eastern Cape beaches and KZN beaches; the entire coastal area had Splash Polo events. Rural Splash started in Soweto from September and there was one in the East Rand. Therefore, the entire programme' purpose was to teach children about water safety and preventing drowning, which was exceptionally high in the country.

Mr Fritz said that with regard to schools and performance centres, schools for SSA was the cradle and they had a detailed schools’ strategy that was mapped over the last three years. With the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Sports and Recreation, SSA arrived at a position that both departments noted swimming as a priority. SSA had a joint task team that mapped the strategy in terms of how it would first align the competitions to ensure there was not one-sided application of resources and resources were placed where it was required.

In terms of performance schools, it was important for the Committee to understand the difference between mass participation and elite. Performance schools were where it started in terms of elite swimming. Mass participation was the four programmes mentioned in terms of rural splash in dams, rivers and ocean splash, and learning to swim in the swimming pool and the development of instructors. Next week SSA would compile a report for the Committee on just learn to swim environment so as to get a better understanding of the programme.

Mr Fritz said that the problem in swimming currently was that the facilities were poorly maintained but did not regard that as an excuse because where there was water, children could be taught to swim. SAA was way off in terms of what it wanted to achieve because South Africa was a very hot country, and the first thing children did was to migrate to water, and if the child was not water safe that child was in danger.

On why SSA’s budget was around R36 million with resources of R17 million, SSA did what it needed to do between the two tiers of swimming, that was, mass participation and elite swimming, and it needed resources to reach its goals. SSA’s goal was that every child in the country must be water safe through various programmes.

Mr Fritz said that it was always good for SSA to produce medals because it made the country feel good; it made them feel good. But they could only be competitive if they competed internationally. Swimming was unfortunately a sport one was on his/her own and one had to produce good results. SAA has seen how senior swimming athletes were able to produce with very little international exposure; it made the country proud. Where they were behind other international countries, it was simply because of resources.

On SSA’s relationship with the SABC, with the marketing strategic point of view it has approached in excess of 180 companies for sponsorships. From Sasol to small companies, and SSA was knocking on doors and were told “thank you very much, it was a good presentation and we will let you know”, and of course nothing happened. But SAA was pleased with the SABC on its involvement with them.

Mr Fritz said that in terms of the constitutional alignment, the directive came around 2014 that SSA should align to geopolitical boundaries in provinces. It took more than two years to realign. SSA was happy to report that all its districts were in place in the eight provinces, and the only districts which were not fully running were in the Western Cape province. There are six districts in the Western Cape. Eden district around the George area was performing extremely well. SSA was now implementing Winelands and envisaged that by the end of March 2018, the Western Cape would be up and running. Therefore, the geopolitical alignment would be fully fledged around March or April 2018.

In terms of confirmation in swimming, SAA’s point of view was that it was not where it should be and there was a couple of factors that hampered that. Facilities was certainly one of them, financial resources were also one of them because SSA was going to train people to reach people. For example, the North-West province was doing very well in rural areas in terms of reaching children that were previously denied swimming. The junior swimming team that participated in Cairo, Egypt was certainly well represented in terms of African Black children.

Mr Fritz said that on the issue of focusing more on African Black children, that SSA’s representation of Colored and Indian swimmers was extremely good. SSA was under-represented in African Black swimmers, hence the focus on African Black children. SSA had no excuse on not reaching an African Black child and it was a must to do that. He said that there was a focus on rural swimming and the Limpopo province was going to be a shining outcome in the near future because SSA was pleased in terms of what was happening with the leadership there in the management of swimming. SSA has met with the Executive Mayor of Polokwane and never saw such amazing reception from the leadership of the province. It understood that Government could not do everything but if the political will was there, it would get somewhere with swimming. Swimming generally in South Africa was not where it was supposed to be and as leadership in swimming SSA could do much more.

In terms of the development plan between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, there was already an agreement in place between the SSA and the University of Stellenbosch, which only needed to be signed. SSA was also talking with the University of Cape Town and the University of the Western Cape where discussions were going very well and producing what they wanted. SSA had nine provincial affiliates and 52 districts across the country.

On the issue of disability, SSA took a decision in 2008 to integrate disability into all its swimming structures. Over the last 10 years disability swimming slightly did exceptionally well if looking at the middle tally. At all local swimming events, disability was the strongest of all sports codes in the country. But they have a slight challenge in disability at international level which was due to various things including financial support and so on. It took a special coach to coach a disability swimmer at elite level. He agreed that not all SSA swimming facilities were disability friendly and a lot of work needed to be done by municipalities in this regard.

Mr Fritz said that the age for swimming is six months where they taught babies to be able to swim. Therefore, there was no age limit to be able to learn to swim.

Mr Zikie Molusi, Vice President, SSA, said that the relationship with the SABC was going on for a number of years. SSA could credit this to how back in the days the investment that Telkom was putting into swimming which indirectly the cooperation was benefiting from the revenue point of view. In terms of how the sport performed over the years in the delivery of medals was something the country was proud about over the years. That was also further exacerbated by the Learn to Swim programme because through the corporate social responsibility which the Learn to Swim programme was covering and understanding the amounts of drowning that occur in dams was something that the SABC was proud to be associated with.

From the broadcasting rights fees, swimming was not an expensive sport and based on the negotiations that SAA agreed with SABC, it was quite befitting that whatever amount of investment SABC was putting into swimming, it was something which was working for the SABC particularly given the perceived value the SABC as a broadcaster was deriving out of it.

Mr Molusi said that from the human relations point of view, most of the directors and officials working in the sporting portfolios at the SABC were people SSA knew for years and how they have nurtured the relationship over the years really assisted them in maintaining the relationship they had to date.

The Chairperson thanked the President of SSA and his delegation for the presentation and responses and was looking forward to their next engagement to resolve all the challenges and to deal effectively with all the issues of transformation in swimming throughout the country.

Minutes of 1 November 2017     

Mr Mmusi moved for the adoption of minutes.

Ms Abrahams seconded the move.

The Committee adopted the minutes without amendments.

The Chairperson thanked Members of the Committee for the inputs.

The meeting was adjourned.


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