Swim school makes a splash.The Ashfield Aquatic Centre turns 50 this year and while the pool itself may be old, the people and programs are on the cutting edge of Local Government.
In 2012, instead of outsourcing and cutting programs to save costs, Ashfield went against the status quo and brought under Council management the Aquatic Centre’s flagship program, the Swim School.
This project, run by Aquatic Centre Supervisor Darren Thorne, demonstrated best practice in its economic feasibility, marketing and administration.
General Manager Vanessa Chan said she set a goal for the school to make money in its second year, and was pleasantly surprised.
“Enrolment numbers and revenue have exceeded our expectations. The Swim School is now a major source of income for the Council and is the benchmark program for all others.
“I have asked other teams to look to the Swim School program as best practice in implementing a great service for our residents as well as generating funds that we can invest back into the community.”
Mr Thorne said the project took just over a year beginning with a feasibility study that encouraged Council to vote in favour of the move in June 2012.
“The next step was recruiting a Swim School Coordinator, and out of a very high calibre field of candidates, Kathy Leo, a 20–year veteran of swim schools including at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre and MLC School at Burwood, joined the Ashfield team.”
Then began the enrolment drive. This included installing a modern point of sale, a computerised management system named Centaman, and an innovative marketing strategy that encouraged parents to enrol their kids at a direct and grass roots level.
“The first lessons started on Monday 8 October, 2012, with 600 students, an overwhelming number,” said Mr Thorne.
Enrolments grew to 1,145 students in February and numbers are still increasing.
Ms Chan said it was a fantastic result due to a team effort from Council, “and certainly is best practice in council programs”.