Transformation Plan: Swimming South Africa



Swimming South Africa first tabled a systematic programme of transformation in 1999/2000 to all provinces. That detailed document was to set the stage for the transformation of our sport at all levels, including administration, athlete participation, coaching and technical services. Targets were placed before provincial leadership in the hope that these organisational entities will, through the support of their affiliates, drive the process, with minimal intervention from the national centre. As we fast forward to 2004, most, if not all, the targets set in that four year plan have failed to materialise. Despite monitoring the process in the early stages of the last four year phase, it was obvious that the support from provincial leadership was, at best, poor. Most provinces reluctantly provided an updated status of the extent of transformation, and none provided any indication of their programmes for transformation or development.

In this new plan, which has to extend beyond a four year period, the approach to transformation has to be substantially different, driven through the national organisation on the basis of regulated quotas, taking into consideration regional and provincial differences. The agents for change, particularly in the medium to long term, will still nevertheless remain the provincial structures.


In 1999 the relationship between development and transformation was described as the following:

“Development is considered to be the process of transformation of Swimming South Africa to represent the demographics of the country, with the emphasis on Black focussed aquatic programmes providing opportunities for disadvantaged children and adults. In the short term, this would entail the demographic representivity in all structures and activities of the organisation at club, provincial and national level before 2004.”


Political Structures: (National Ministry of Sport; Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sport)

The political structures of the country, consisting of democratically elected representatives of broader society have a responsibility to ensure that all aspects of social life in South Africa are accessible to all, and reflective of the demographics of the country. The inescapable fact that aquatic sport does not meet this standard implies that the pressures that are being increasingly placed on our sport is to be expected and is also legitimate.

As we meet our mission to become one of the premier sports in South Africa, we will increasingly find ourselves in the public spotlight. The consequence of this exposure means that our demographic unrepresentativity will constantly be challenged. Should our national teams not have adequate black, and more specifically African, representatives very soon, we should expect a moratorium being placed on our international participation.


As our sponsors seek to expand their products into previously underserved markets (particularly black communities), they will want their branding associated with sport that is readily visible in these communities. Aquatics is currently not providing our sponsors with this marketing avenue, and could theoretically place our relationship with these sponsors at risk.

Socio-economic situation

The primary limiting factor (assuming that our membership is committed to transformation) to increasingly black, and particularly African, representation in SSA is the lack of financial resources within the black community generally. Participation in the higher levels of aquatic sport require resources which the majority in our country do not have available as disposable income. While financial support can be invested in the short term in development programmes, this is not sustainable in the long term, nor can it support large number of potential elite black swimmers.

Thus we have to be innovative, engage all stakeholders, including our clubs, sponsors and government structures in developing programmes, identifying potential youngsters, and determining ways in which they could be supported to realising their full potential. Some of these are explored further below, as medium term strategies for advancing the process of transformation in Swimming South Africa.


Because of the various pressures for transformation in sport, and in aquatic sport in particular, it is necessary to define a two pronged approach such that the needs and desires of all stakeholders are appropriately addressed.

a) The Short Term


Given the increasing pressure from state and the fact that after more than 12 years of a politically non-racial society, aquatic sport is still not reflective of the broader South African society, and given that our senior provincial and national teams consist almost exclusively of white participants, there has to be a rapid organisational response. Many will be critical of this, arguing that this is a knee jerk reaction to the recent governmental pressures – this is easily countered by the steadfast lack of transformation at all levels of our sport. Attempts at a gradual, sustained transformation process commenced in 1999, and as failed to deliver, and this failure has to be assessed, and met with a more concerted directed approach. We have to anticipate a major political backlash should our teams be demographically non-representative by Beijing 2008. To achieve the objectives of this short term plan, the transformation process moves from the failed self-regulatory “targets” approach of the 1999 Programme to the directed “SSA legislated quotas” approach.


  1. Ensure African representation in all national teams by January 2008
  2. Immediately increase black participation in all levels of competition and in all sectors (athletes, administrators, technical officials and coaches) of the organisation.

Approach – Objective 1

This objective will in the short term focus primarily on the discipline of swimming, unless a case can be made for the other disciplines consisting of individual participation. All senior team disciplines (water-polo and synchronised swimming) will be compelled to have a 20% black participation by 2008, and junior teams a 50% black participation, or else such teams will not be ratified. No team will be permitted to leave the country without the sanctioning of the President and the Executive member responsible for athlete development.

The Performance Manager of Swimming South Africa will develop criteria for the selection of African athletes into a Target Squad. This will be circulated to all provinces and coaches, and a squad will be identified. A programme designed by the National Coaching Director will be implemented on a regional basis, within the context of the National Squad Strategy. Black coaches will be involved in this programme, in line with the national strategy. The Performance Manager will be responsible for the tracking of the performance of these swimmers, and development of coaches, and reporting to the responsible Executive member for tabling at Executive meetings.

A full four year budget must be developed for this programme, with coaches being reimbursed, athletes being provided funds for travel to the training venues and for their participation in national competitions. These swimmers will be required to sign an undertaking of their commitment to the programme.

Approach – Objective 2

All aquatic disciplines and all sectors (athlete, coaching, technical officiating, team management and administration) will be expected to meet the quotas as stipulated by the SSA Executive, following a process of consultation with provincial leadership and national structures. All responsible agencies (e.g club, province, SASOA, other national structures) will be financially rewarded for exceeding the stipulated quotas, while failure to meet the quota will result in punitive measures. These quotas will be gradually increased over the next four years.

Wherever applicable, a two tier quota system will apply – provinces will be allocated to either a Category 1 or Category 2 status, with greater demands being placed on Category 1. The following provinces will be in Category 1: KwaZulu-Natal, Western Province, Central Gauteng, Northern Tigers and Eastern Cape. All remaining provinces will be accorded Category 2 status.

The quotas for the various levels of national competition, the various disciplines and the various sectors for the season 2004/5 are detailed in the tables below. The methods to achieve these quotas will be left entirely to the responsible agency, however, the SSA Executive, the national office and the national substructures will always be available to assist.

The quotas for national teams are reflected in table B. The responsible agency for the national teams will be the SSA Executive.


Target Tables: Click Here

b) The Medium Term


Recognising that transformation is a process, and that the short term plans outlined above is intended to provide a quick redress to the lack transformation over the last five years, sustainability of the process of transformation is only possible through the implemetation of a clearly defined programme.

For the medium term, each structure and substructure of Swimming South Africa must implement a development programme which will address the objectives of transfomation within its ranks.


  1. Ensure that every structure and substructure within Swimming South Africa has a development programme aimed at increasing black participation within the structure/substructure
  2. task responsible agencies for monitoring the implementation of these programmes.


  1. For the purposes of this document, the following structures/substructures are identified:
    • Provincial Level:
      • – Clubs
      • – Provincial Executive
      • – Discipline Boards
      • – Technical and Selection Committees
    • National Level:
      • – National Executive
      • – National Head Office
      • – National Technical Committees
      • – Selection Committees
  2. The specific content of the programme of each structure/substructure will be determined by that structure/substructure itself, based on the local conditions. However, at each level, it will be necessary to adopt certain key imperatives. All programmes must embrace a model of mass based aquatic sport, which attempts to involve a broad sector of the community, including local schools (at a club level), community based organisations (at a club level), tertiary education institutions (at a provincial level), provincial and local government (at a provincial level) and local industry and commerce (at a provincial level).
  3. Thus, each club will be expected to produce a developmental programme, which aims at ensuring a mass base for aquatic sport. The broad content of the club based programme must include the participation of one or more schools within the community in which that club is based. The programme must also show evidence of a partnership of the local community based organisation (CBO), and community based organisations from adjacent disadvantaged communities – preferably, communities which do not have a swimming pool. Clubs based in disadvantaged communities will also be expected to produce a schools’ based programme, and show evidence of partnerships with CBOs. These clubs will be financially supported through the SSA “Learn-to-Swim” Programme. Clubs which consider themselves to be exclusively competitive clubs, training elite swimmers, will also be expected to meet these requirements, however, this could be achieved indirectly through the partnership with accredited swim teachers NOT belonging to another club.
  4. In addition to having a development programme aimed a mass based sport, each club must also have a programme which clearly indicates a plan to develop black coaches, technical officials and administrators.
  5. The Provincial Executive will be expected to produce a programme which outlines its initiatives at increasing the mass base of aquatic sport through clearly defined schools’ programmes (particularly schools not actively participating in USSASA activities) and by developing partnerships with the tertiary institutions within the region. School based activity will be financially supported through the SSA “Learn-to-Swim” Programme.
  6. The Provincial Executive must show how its programmes intend to interact with provincial government departments (particularly Departments of Sport and Recreation and Departments of Education). These interactions must ensure a drive toward mass based participation but also a means of involving educators in “Learn-to-Swim” programmes, and driving at including aquatic sport as a life skill within the curricula of school education. Interaction with local government must be aimed at securing access to venues, directing resources in areas that are considered to be priority areas in terms of aquatic development and obtaining additional resources for learn-to-swim activities.
  7. The Provincial Executive through its interaction with the various stakeholders mentioned above, must also indicate how it intends to increase the numbers of black administrators within its ranks, particularly at leadership levels at the Boards and Executive. All Category 1 Provincial Boards, Technical and Selection Committees and Executive must have at least 50% black representation by 2005. Category 2 Provincial Boards, Technical and Selection Committees and Executive must have at least a 20% black representation by 2005, with a 50% representation by 2008. Provincial delegations to national meetings, including AGMs and SGMs must be at least 50% black from 2006 for Category 1 provinces, and by 2007 for Category 2 provinces (provinces should note, that by deciding to send only a single delegate, then by definition, this delegate MUST be black). Nominations from Category 1 Provinces for any national position by 2008 must be at least 50% black, with at least 20% being African, for such nominations to be valid. Similarly, for Category 2 Provinces, these will be 30% black, with at least 15% African.
  8. The Provincial Discipline Boards will be expected to produce programmes which details plans on identifying and advancing talented black athletes to higher levels of national competitions. In some instances, these will be driven through the Regional Centres plan of SSA. These Boards will also be responsible for the programmes developing coaches and technical officials. By 2008, all nominations for national technical and selection committees from Category 1 Provinces must be 50% black, with at least 25% African, while from Category 2 Provinces this must be 30% black, with at least 15% African. Failure to meet these quotas will render such nominations invalid.
  9. The National Executive, while having an overall responsibility for the oversight of the above programmes, will nevertheless be responsible for the implementation of certain specific programmes. These include national elite athlete development and national team selection, including team management, and administrator development. Coaching and technical official development will remain the responsibility of the provinces. While the National Executive already has a clearly defined Athlete Development Plan in place, and will base its membership of national teams on Table 4 above, it does not have an adequate programme of leadership succession in place. An Executive Leadership Programme at a national level needs to be implemented urgently.
  10. The National Office, under the leadership of the CEO must ensure that appointments to the various positions in the office are made in accordance with the Employment Equity Act, particularly with regard to the establishment of selection committees, advertising of posts, with committee review of advertisements, use of appropriate methods of advertising, committee review of candidates, shortlisting according to the advertisement, and appointment according to employment equity guidelines. These standards will apply to fixed positions, short or long term contracts or consultants, for technical and administrative support positions. Under no circumstances will positions be filled without the above process. By no later than 2008, the SSA National Office will be fully representative of the national demographics within all substrata (i.e management staff stratum and administrative support stratum respectively, or technical staff stratum and support staff stratum). Demographic representativity will not be considered appropriate if targets are met by the employment of larger numbers of junior or administrative black staff.

Responsibility and Reporting

The structure/substructure will be responsible for the development, implementation and continuous evaluation of the programme. The final responsibility for these programmes rests with the most senior manager of the structure/substructure such as the Chief Executive, President, Chairperson or Convenor.

The President of each of the provincial affiliates will be responsible for reporting to the National Executive about the provincial structures/substructures. These reports must be submitted to the National CEO at least one month prior to the Annual General Meeting. The provision of a Development/Transformation Report must become a constitutional requirement for registration or affiliation to SSA. The provincial report must indicate which structure/substructure within the province has failed to produce a programme, and the action taken against such structure/substructure. The report must indicate the targets and the success or otherwise of achieving these targets.

Incentives and Punitive Measures

The Executive Committee of Swimming South Africa will develop a policy to manage the implementation of the transformation plan of the organisation. This policy must be aligned to strategy defined by SASCOC and government, and will include punitive measures as well as incentives. The agency responsible for delivering on targets will be required to cascade these measures to their members.

Jace Naidoo
Swimming South Africa


Note: Published in the mid-2000s by then-SSA President Jace Naidoo and now carried out by current President Alan Fritz.


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