FOUNDER of the Piranhas Aquatic Club, Alan Fritz, has been announced as the new president of Swimming South Africa (SSA).
The East London-born and raised administrator, who played a pivotal role in the development of swimming in our city, spoke to GO! & Express about his recent appointment and goals for the next four years.
“I am deeply touched by the level of confidence that the swimming fraternity has in my capability to lead our strong leadership team,” Fritz said.
He is not the first East Londoner to be selected for this position, as the current South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) president, Gideon Sam, and chief executive officer of SSA, Shaun Adriaanse, also hail from the Piranhas Aquatic Club and have also led the national swimming body.
Fritz’s entry into the swimming arena began in 1978, when he attended a swimming coaching clinic with former director general of Sports and Recreation of South Africa, Denver Hendricks, and realised the need to formalise a swimming club.
“As kids growing up in disadvantaged areas, swimming pools were basically non-existent and the Buffalo River and strictly segregated beaches with poor amenities like Leaches Bay are where we swam a lot, ” said Fritz, who formed Piranhas in 1981, along with Deryl Sass.
After serving as general secretary of the Amateur Swimming Association of Border (ASAB), before the unification of sport in South Africa, and vice president of SSA, Fritz’s selection as SSA president was obvious.
Looking to the next four years of swimming in South Africa, Fritz emphasised the need for growth in the sport.
“Currently there is a need to tweak our strategy slightly, which will be highly financial support dependent.
“We have to grow our depth and in particular female swimmers.
“We currently have about 12000 registered athletes in SSA.
“This must be doubled in the next four years. Our other disciplines like water polo, diving, marathon swimming and synchro must develop to such a level that they can compete inter- nationally,” said the former John Bisseker Senior Secondary School pupil.
He believes better communication throughout the SSA structures, growth in athlete numbers and financial stability is key to progress. Potential challenges included governance, funding for athletes and partnerships with universities for science expertise.
“We must take the sport to all our communities. Facilities and maintenance of facilities is a major problem. How do you teach your kids to swim where there is no swimming pool?
“Our government must assist in resourcing sport better,” Fritz said.
He added that businesses would also need to come to the party with financial assistance.
“It is a dream for all of us that no parent should fork out the kind of money they pay today. It is very hard to compete against the likes of the USA, Britain and Australia with all the resources they have,” Fritz said.