Protectionism via a Moratorium on New Swim Clubs

Why doesn’t Canada have 100,000+ members and why doesn’t Ontario have 30,000+ members? This post provides an insight into the mindset of how the sport of swimming is being managed by Swimming Natation Canada (SNC) and by Swim Ontario (SO).

For at least the 2013/14 and the 2014/15 swim seasons, the Board of Swim Ontario, a Board made up of head coaches and club Presidents voted unanimously to implement a moratorium on new clubs. Since then, Swim Ontario publication of Board Meeting Minutes has become minimal eliminating transparency allowing actions of the Board of Swim Ontario to remain hidden from the public, the media, and government oversight.

Implementing a moratorium on new clubs conflicts with the mandate Swim Ontario receives in exchange for funding from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. The condition for funding is that Provincial Sport Organization (PSOs) make:

“the sport universally accessible, fair & equitable to all citizens of Ontario”

How does a moratorium on new clubs increase…

 – Access and accessibility to the sport?
– Opportunities to participate in the sport of swimming?
– Capacity of the sport system?
– Make the sport more fair and equitable?

It doesn’t. It does the opposite for Canadians; however, for those who implemented the moratorium it provides preferential status to all their clubs, offers monopolistic powers to charge exhorbitant fees due to the lack of competition, due to the lack of new clubs, ensuring that existing clubs and their coaches thrive (but no one else).

A moratorium could make sense if there was significant club turnover year over year, or even within the swim season leading to severe challenges for swimmers and parents of swimmers. But that is not the case, far from it. Clubs of Swim Ontario Board members Eric Martin (Lakeshore Swim Club/LSC) and Kevin Anderson (Mississauga/MSSAC) openly advertise that their clubs “hit capacity” and “not all swimmers are accepted”. That head coaches of clubs which annually turn away athletes, voted for a moratorium on new swim clubs, demonstrates a flagrant abuse of power which serves only to profit themselves and their clubs by ensuring that any possible competition to them or their clubs is eliminated. The negative impact on Canadian children and on the sport of swimming is irrelevant as the entire Board of Swim Ontario voted unanimously for the moratorium.

That is the quality of leadership in the sport of swimming in Ontario, leadership fully approved and supported by SNC.

Sport Canada Contribution Guidelines

Sport Support Program
National Sport Organization (NSO) component, pg3/25

Lakeshore Swim Club (LSC)

Mississauga Aquatic Club (MSSAC)

Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport Policy

If that was only the end of it…

Implementing a moratorium on new clubs is also in direct conflict with the position statements of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES).

“every child should have the opportunity to benefit from sport.”

Not some children, every child should have the opportunity to benefit from sport. But how is every child to benefit from sport when they are turned away from full swim clubs, when leaders in positions of power abuse those powers to profit themselves and their friends, the so-called “friends of Swim Ontario”.

The actions of Swim Ontario’s Board, according to CCES policy are unethical as a moratorium on clubs limits the opportunity for Canadians to have their chance to participate in sport.

When informed of their unethical policies and procedures, there was no response from the Swim Ontario Board.

Below is correspondence that a father received after following ALL of the onerous club set up conditions – as set forth by Swim Ontario – after forwarding an application for a new swim club. This father voluntarily took the time for his own children and those children in his community:

 – obtaining pool time and pool permits which is no easy feat (nor cheap feat to accomplish),
– securing a coach so that the club would have organized training sessions,
– achieved all other conditions (e.g. establishing a non-profit, establishing a Constitution, obtaining appropriate insurance, etc…)

One would think that the organization representing swimming in Ontario would be overjoyed that a parent would give of themselves, give of their time to not only their own family but to their entire community in setting up a swim club that his efforts would be rewarded, celebrated, and the father congratulated. But this is Ontario, and in Ontario, the Board of Swim Ontario rejects such selfless actions and has put in place policies designed to deter any parent from doing the unthinkable… trying to improve the opportunities for their own children, and other children.

During the moratorium period there must have been not just one or two but several applications for new clubs. Clubs that could have grown Swim Ontario’s membership numbers. In another instance I am aware of, a club in Espanola, Ontario (just outside of Sudbury) was to be established.  A Facebook page was set up to advertise, town hall meetings were organized… an entire community uniting to support their children only to be rejected in the end.

This is the state of swimming in Ontario, in Canada.

Because this is the quality of leadership found at the top of the sport of swimming.

I challenge those who support SNC and Swim Ontario… why lend your support?

Are these organizations acting in a manner worthy of your support, your respect?

Think about it then I encourage you to act and speak out accordingly.