Summary of the Gateshead and Whickham (GAW) Crowdfunding project
Our swimming club has enjoyed over 100 years history in the region, which we are extremely proud of. Over this time, we’ve added real value to the lives of our swimmers as well a sense of community to everyone involved.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on our club's finances, as we have not been able to host our own swimming galas. The funds we raise from our galas are a significant part of our overall income and help us pay for our pool hire and coaching.
We are raising funds to replace this lost income and help secure the future of our club. Our target is to raise £16,000, the same amount that we raised from our galas in 2019. Sport England will contribute 30% of our target, as long as we raise the rest ourselves.
Please help us to reach our target, by either making a donation or buying one of the great rewards we have on offer, many of which are at discounted prices. Many of our rewards relate to swimming, but there are plenty which will interest people who are not involved in swimming.
Who are we?
The club currently has 130 active swimmers whose ages range from 8 to 76. We provide structured, coached training sessions to nine squads which include those just starting swimming training, several competition squads and a masters squad. The majority of our junior swimmers, and some of our masters swimmers compete regularly in local, regional and national galas.
Junior and masters swimmers from the club won events at both national and European levels in 2018. In 2019, the club had one medallist and four finalists at the Swim England national championships and won 11 golds and 12 other medals at the North East long course regional championships. The club also qualified for the national junior league final in 2015 and 2016, coming 6th and 5th respectively.
The competitive aspect is important, but we also enable all our swimmers to develop their confidence, independence and self-discipline as well as their swimming skills. Our masters section enables adult swimmers who don’t compete to improve their fitness and well-being. We also help swimmers develop a strong team ethic and a love for the sport. Individuals who develop these attributes through swimming will often retain these attributes throughout their lives.
Our swimmers mostly come from the Gateshead borough, which includes several areas of social and economic deprivation. We currently have more female swimmers than male swimmers, and our squads include many individuals from minority ethnic groups and also some with disabilities.
Our members also include nearly 200 parents of junior swimmers, many of whom support the club at galas, with fundraising and recently as COVID reps at all training sessions. Our committee includes representatives for each of our squads, as well as a chairperson, secretary, treasurer and child welfare officer. Other committee members look after our website, membership, Swim England renewals, Swim Mark, competitions, officials and marketing and promotion.
The financial impact of COVID 19 on our club
One of the main impacts of COVID 19 on the club’s finances has been the loss of the profit that we usually makes from our own swimming galas, which helps us pay for our pool hire and coaching costs. In 2019, we ran three galas which together generated a net profit of £16,000. Due to COVID 19, were unable to run our own galas in 2020, and it is unlikely we will be able to run any galas in 2021.
Following the closure of all pools in March 2020, our normal pools in Gateshead have not reopened, so we sought new venues to resume training in August 2020. We have been using community run pools in Elswick (the photo below is of our masters squad at Elswick pool) and Jesmond in Newcastle, and more recently Benfield school pool and Hadrian pool, all four of which we will return to in April if the Gateshead pools have not reopened.
When we resumed training at Elswick and Jesmond in August, we were initially only able to source between 50% and 60% of our normal water time prior to COVID 19. Our swimmer income during that period was sufficient to cover these lower costs, despite no income from gala profits.
In December 2020, we secured more water time at Benfield and Hadrian pools, which increased our costs for pool hire and coaching. As a result, the club incurred a significant operating loss in December 2020. When we return to swimming in the four Newcastle pools, hopefully on April 12th, our increased water time will be an average of 94% of the pre COVID water time across all squads, enough for the club’s swimmers to compete successfully.
What will these funds be used for?
We need to increase our income significantly to cover the additional pool hire and coaching costs due to the increase in our water time. The funds we raise from Crowdfunding will help us to meet these additional costs until we can resume hosting our own galas in 2022. We have set our Crowdfunding target at £16,000, the same amount as we generated from the club’s galas in 2019.
We expect that we can resume our normal programme of home galas in the spring of 2022, and the resulting gala profits will then be available to replace the funding raised from this Crowdfunding project.
Stretch target of £20,000
We also have a stretch target of £20,000. If we exceed our target of £16,000, we will donate 50% of the over achievement to a local children's charity and use the remaining over achievement to help us purchase backstroke starting wedges, so our swimmers can improve their backstroke starts.
The physical and mental impact of COVID 19 on our swimmers
During the first lockdown our coaches organised zoom catch up sessions and outdoor land training sessions, to maintain engagement with their swimmers. The coaches soon became aware of the impact that closure of the pools was having on our swimmers physical and mental wellbeing. The absence of their favourite sporting activity, together with the inability to meet with their friends from swimming, led to many swimmers experiencing a lack of motivation and a sense of social isolation which was having a negative impact on their mental health.
To help motivate our junior swimmers, the club organised a fundraising challenge last May. Each swimmer measured the distance they cycled, ran or walked in the half term week, with a collective target to exceed the distance from Gateshead to Budapest (1200 miles), the venue for the European swimming championships in May 2020. We achieved nearly treble the distance and raised £7000 to buy new starting blocks, as well as providing an individual and collective physical challenge for our swimmers.
During the last two lockdowns, our coaches have enhanced the virtual training programme, delivering several zoom sessions each week covering stroke technique, nutritional guidance, swimming education, social catch ups and land training. These sessions have enabled our swimmers to engage with their coaches and other swimmers, as well as undertaking structured physical exercise at home, helping them maintain their physical and mental health.
The Tokyo challenge
In the coming Easter holidays, between April 2nd and April 16th, the club has organised another physical challenge for our swimmers to help us reach our Crowdfunding target. The challenge is for them to collectively travel the distance to Tokyo, where this year's Olympics will be held, which is 5766 miles. Participants can clock up their miles through walking, running, cycling and swimming (after the pools reopen on April 12th). They can also earn miles through doing 75 press ups, 75 burpees or a 3 minute plank. All participants will need to set up their own personal Crowdfunding pages, which will link to this main Crowdfunding page, so funds raised from each individual's page all count towards our total. The club treasurer will help participants set up their own pages, once we have launched our main Crowdfunding page.
Reaching out into the local community
There are currently very few opportunities in the Gateshead area for children to learn to swim due to the closure of the Gateshead pools since March 2020. When the Newcastle pools reopen, we are going to start our own Learn To Swim (LTS) scheme at Elswick pool, to provide an opportunity for young children from the Gateshead area to begin their swimming journey and learn a valuable life skill.
Once children have completed their swimming lessons, our LTS scheme will also enable us to offer a pathway into competitive swimming for those who have demonstrated an aptitude and interest in continuing their swimming journey.
We have included the payment for the first month of the LTS scheme as one of our rewards. If you wish your child to join our LTS scheme, please email our chairman on [email protected] to book your child's place on the assessment day on April 25th. After the assessment, you will need to pay for the first month of LTS sessions by selecting the LTS reward on our Crowdfunding page.
Swimmers stories - Thejes Sundar and Alex Mcgill
Two of our senior swimmers have written about their personal experience of swimming with Gateshead and Whickham ASC, and the positive impact this has had on their lives. Please follow these links to find out more:
Why are we crowdfunding?
Crowdfunder and Sport England have teamed up to make £2.5m of match funding available to help the sport sector through the COVID 19 pandemic crisis, and we applied for match funding through this scheme. Our Crowdfunding project has been approved, and Sport England will contribute 30% of our target of £16,000, which is £4,800.
To unlock this pledge from Sport England, we need to initially raise £4,000 ourselves and get to 100 unique supporters. Sport England’s pledge will then be added to our fundraise. In order to then lock in this pledge, we then need to carry on and get to our overall £16,000 target otherwise we lose that pledge! For every pound that we make through donations or people buying our rewards, Sport England will donate an additional 43 pence
Spreading the word
To help us reach our target of £16,000, please share our page with your family and friends via your social media apps and encourage them to support us.
Making a donation
You can make a donation to the fund at the top of the page by selecting the amount you want to donate and clicking on the donate button.
You can also make a donation to an individual swimmer who is doing the Tokyo challenge (see above for details), which will count towards our Crowdfunding total. You will need to make your donation on the individual Crowdfunding page set up by the swimmer.
Buying a reward
You can also purchase one or more of the rewards that are shown on the right-hand side of the page. Photographs are now available for many of the rewards, and can be viewed on the Gateshead and Whickham Amateur swimming club website, if you scroll down to the bottom of the home page and click on "catalogue of items images". Please copy this link into your browser to find our website:
Learn to swim reward - important update
Please don't purchase a reward for the LTS scheme until after the assessment day on 25th April. To register your interest in the scheme, please email [email protected]
Many rewards have been donated by someone associated with the club, either by offering up their time for free, or by donating an item that someone else may wish to buy at a discounted price. Lots of other rewards have been donated by local businesses who wish to support the club.
Many of the rewards will be of particular interest to swimmers, but we have also included a lot of rewards which will be of more general interest to parents, family and friends. If you would like to buy a reward, please click on the relevant “select reward” button.