DEEP POCKETS: Hefty registration costs are limiting access to one of the Lucky Country’s favourite pastimes.Picture: Rob Williams.
DEEP POCKETS: Hefty registration costs are limiting access to one of the Lucky Country’s favourite pastimes.Picture: Rob Williams.

Troubled waters: Swimmers struggle with increased costs

THE cost of competitive swimming has skyrocketed putting the once affordable pursuit out of reach of families.

A top-heavy Queensland Swimming overladen with bureaucrats is overcharging and failing to distribute funds fairly to the sport's detriment, according to long-term Ipswich coach Paul Sansby.

"We're not seeing anything from Queensland Swimming in return. They are not developing the grass roots,'' Sansby said.

"Half a dozen top flight clubs get all the money."

Living on the world's largest island amid tropical paradise, there is good reason most Australians learn to swim before they can crawl.

In decades gone-by swimming has been the strength of Australia's Olympic team, with our athletes setting the pace among the world's best.

Previously inexpensive in comparison to other sports, swimmers are now paying as much as $25 per event to nominate for major competitions.

Sansby said the exorbitant registration costs were becoming absolutely ridiculous and it was going to force people out of the sport.

"They are out of control," he said.

"They are charging up to $20-25 for swimmers to bash down 50m. With 100 or more in each event, it is not bad money."

Sansby said regional swimming clubs were being neglected and emerging stars were unable to secure funding unless they joined one of 15 Australia-wide chosen as "Podium Performance Centres" to develop swimmers for the Dolphins national squad.

He said parents were concentrating on winning scholarships rather than development and swimmers often had to leave behind the coaches, programs and clubs that had taken them to success.

"They have proved in other countries that the system doesn't work," he said.

"Coaches have put years into developing these swimmers. They have put their time, heart and soul into it for a cost that doesn't even cover pool entry.

"But the funding goes to whoever has got the end product. Nobody considers who developed the product."

The experienced Waterworx mentor suggested a system which reimbursed less affluent clubs for lost talent and the time and money devoted to its development.

"Smaller clubs should be compensated if they have produced state or national swimmers," he said.

"It is massive when we lose kids of calibre because we don't have many of them."

Sansby said he was keen to propose such a scheme to the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teacher's Association.

"It might be too forward thinking for them," he said.

"But something needs to be done to ensure national funding moves downhill."

Sansby said state titles should be for elite competitors only and the first action Queensland Swimming needed to take was to limit nominations to forty in each event.

"State titles should be just that," he said.

"Then it would give others something to aspire to.

"Having 10 or 12 heats is boring. Waiting for TV advertisements, it is killing the sport.

"They are more worried about which carpet they are going to use for the presentation ceremony.

"If you had 40 qualify it would be all about the swimming instead of making money to pay people to sit in offices.''

He said hundreds could be seen lining up to purchase shirts and accessories at state carnivals and Queensland Swimming placed far too much importance on the sale of merchandise and revenue raising.

"It is all about merchandising," he said.