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History of the ASA

McKeon_historyA committee of swimmers responsible for the welfare and protection of their fellow athletes had been discussed as early as the 1982 Commonwealth Games. However, it was not until 1986 that elite Australian swimmers had direct representation with Australian Swimming. At the 1986 Annual General Meeting of Australian Swimming Inc (ASI) Ron McKeon and Audrey Moore were appointed to the ASI Board as swimmer representatives. This position on the Board was to prove vital in the progression of swimmer representation within the sport and the eventual formation on the Australian Swimmers' Association.


From 1994 to 1997, Rob Woodhouse was the Chair of the Australian Swimmers Commission.
During this time Rob oversaw significant reform to develop financial support for swimmers. In addition, The Commission also worked hard to create a fairer and more transparent process for funding through the government.
Another landmark of this period was the work achieved in creating a more structured and consistent, disciplinary appeals process for all national teams. This lead to the development of quality team agreements for both athletes, coaches and team staff. In 1997, Martin Roberts was elected Chair of the Australian Swimmers’ Commission.
From early 1997 the Swimmers’ Commission worked with athletes and the Board to focus on greater financial support for swimmers and enhance athlete contribution to the marketing and profile of the sport. This focus proved essential to Australia’s success at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and paved the way for enhanced structure of financial and sponsorship support of swimmers.
Combined with representation on the ASI High Performance Committee, The Commission worked with coaches and officials to establish consistent and increased direct athlete support payments, including the establishment of a platform for national team member minimum base payments. This was complemented with Constitutional and technical law changes around athlete rights for technical appeals processes. Much of this period also included Board and policy changes to increase athlete contribution and input to marketing, media and the commercial interests of swimming and swimmers.
Another area of focus during this period, saw increased recognition and support for parallel career and skill development of el
ite athletes. This complemented the work of the National Institute Network and the Australian Olympic Committee.
With the growing professionalism of swimming leading into the Sydney 2000 Olympics, the Swimmers' Commission established early connections with professional players associations in other sports. With the support of Commission member Rob Abernethy, this work and collective discussions formed the basis of what would become the independent Australian Swimmers Association. 
In 2000, ten years after its official formation, the Swimmers’ Commission was being operated and organised by current and former Australian representative swimmers. Combining their training and/or work commitments became more difficult for those on the Commission as the demands on swimmers increased in the lead up to, and following, the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
Abo_historyIn November 2000, Robert Abernethy was appointed Chairman of the Swimmers’ Commission and in December put forward the idea of a fully independent Swimmers’ Association, to be run by a full time employee and to operate in the vein of other athlete associations such as the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) and the Australian Football League Players’ Association (AFLPA). The Commission ratified this vision and the idea of a professional association for the increasingly professional sport of swimming was born.

In March 2001 at the Australian Swimming Championships in Hobart, more than 120 swimmers signed a petition of support for the formation of the Australian Swimmers' Association. This level of support from team members was constant throughout the formation process, and included support from senior team members and rookie team members alike. The petition, along with a strategy paper outlining the vision for the ASA were presented to the ASI Board in April 2001. An operating budget forecast was also prepared by the Chairman and presented in July 2001. In late 2001 a formal presentation was conducted which included all ASA details prepared over the previous year. At this meeting, the ASA concept and budget were approved in principle by ASI and the decision was made to quarantine $100,000 for the ASA, subject to the formulation of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Swimmers’ Commission and ASI.


Perkins_historyRob stepped down as Chairman in December 2001 due to work commitments and was replaced by Kieren Perkins. Kieren was instrumental in the development and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between ASI and the Swimmers’ Commission. This MOU, signed on 27th November 2002, outlined the roles and responsibilities of each party in the on-going development of swimming in Australia. It was an enormous achievement that would guarantee the formation of the ASA and the professional representation of elite Australian swimmers.

Mitchell_historyIn March 2002, Kieren Perkins was appointed to the Board of Australian Swimming and stepped down from his role as Chairman of the Swimmers’ Commission. He was replaced by Ryan Mitchell.
 In 2003 the Swimmers’ Commission began the search for a General Manager for the ASA. In June 2003, the Commission appointed the then AFL Players’ Association Administration Manager, Regan Sterry to the position. Regan commenced in the role on 28th July 2003 and the ASA was officially incorporated on the 24th September 2003. At this time the ASA expanded its Board to a ten member Executive   Committee. The Committee consists of both current and former Australian swimmers.
In its first year of incorporation the ASA worked towards the establishment of a second Memorandum of Understanding with the newly named Swimming Australia Limited (SAL). The SAL/ASA Agreement was signed on 1 July 2006 and will operate until 31 December 2008.
Mewing_historyAfter establishing the ASA to what it is today, Regan Sterry stood down as General Manager and was replaced by Robyn Danzy. in 2009 Ryan resigned after 7 extremely succesful years at the helm of the Association to take a job overseas and Andrew Mewing took over as President of the ASA.
Together Andrew and the Executive along with Robyn had some tough battles with ASI/SAL and continued to do fantastic work for the swimmers in Australia. Never losing sight of the goals of the ASA, they worked tirelessly to ensure our swimmers were looked after and represented.
Rickard_historyIn 2010 both Mewing and Danzey resigned from the ASA which saw Vice President Brenton Rickard elected as President and former swimmer Daniel Kowalski take over as the Association General Manager. It was a tough baptism for the new ASA Executive but after some trying times and a lot of hard work the ASA and the sport are back on track for 2016.
Thank you
The ASA would like to thank the Board of Swimming Australia, and in particular former CEO Glenn Tasker, for their support of the development of the Swimmers’ Association. We would also like to thank Ian Williams from law firm Blakes, Waldron and Dawson for the much appreciated pro bono legal work he undertook. The Agreement could not have been reached without the assistance of David Bilston-McGillen and Noel Beharis from Dominion Private Clients and a team of lawyers from Clayton Utz including Dr Graham Smith, Joanne Daniels and Jacqueline Scarlett. Finally, the ASA would like to thank all swimmers who supported the formation of the Association and who gave their time to make it possible.

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