History of POOS
During the 1992 Olympics parents of Australian swimmers sat baking in the Barcelona sunshine outside the pool, unable to return to their accommodation due to it being too far away to permit returning between heats and finals. The assembled parents, relatives and friends, still suffering from vertigo due to their seats being so far up in the heavens, began to discuss what could be done to ensure that they received a better deal in regards to booking of accommodation and purchase of tickets during international competitions such as the Olympics. The parents (Lawson’s, O’Neill’s, Dunn’s et al) found that the social interaction and support of the other parents did a lot to reduce the stress caused by the difficult circumstances in which they found themselves and so an organisation to support the Parents, Pals and Partners of Olympic Swimmers (POOS) was conceived.
In 1996, after the Trials for the Atlanta Olympics, Stephen and Glenda Dunn organised a cruise on Sydney Harbour for the parents of those selected. A great time was had by all and many people began to see the benefits of working together and supporting each other through the stresses of swimming life. In late 1997 David and Lois Lawson approached Australian Swimming to provide names and addresses of parents of the successful competitors at the Australian Long Course Championships. A huge mail out was organised and membership requests poured in. Telstra agreed to sponsor the fledgling organisation. Vivienne Overton, Judy Denman and Maxine Greville organised a very enjoyable POOS CRUISE down the Swan River at the beginning of the World Championships held in Perth in January 1998 where a great time was had by all and so, after years of hard work, POOS had finally been born.
Due to the great work of David and Lois Lawson POOS matured very quickly. For the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur Telstra was persuaded to provide two prizes of a holiday for two in KL during the Games to be drawn from all of the parents of the swimmers chosen to represent Australia. The Godfrey’s and the Hackett’s were the lucky families. A tradition was born whereby a block of seats would be held for purchase by POOS at all major Australian Meets and a POOS luncheon would be held during major Australian competitions held in Australia as well as some major international meets. This provided parents, pals and partners an opportunity to meet and support each other through the stress of knowing how hard all their athletes have trained and through the knowledge that there is very little anyone can do to assure them of the result that they set out to achieve.
In early 2003, after years of unstinting effort, David and Lois decided that it was an appropriate time for them to step down from their very active role in POOS and began asking for volunteers to take over the job they had been so ably been doing over nearly ten years. As their family had attended the very first official POOS CRUISE in January 1997 and had benefited on numerous occasions from being POOS members Mark and Colette Rickard were determined that an organisation that had proved to be of such great benefit to family and friends, should not die, and agreed to take over the reins. It became obvious that swimmers (and parents) need support to become Olympic swimmers. The POOS organisation has recognised the need to support the supporters and has since expanded to become Parents, Pals and Partners of Oz Swimmers. The POOS encourage friends and family of swimmers who begin to show some potential so that they are familiar with the other friendly faces before a swimmer is selected on their first Australian team where they hopefully remain for many years thereafter.
The Rickard’s knew that once their son retired from swimming they would want to move on too so sought to organise an orderly handover of the responsibilities that had grown as the organisation had grown. A number of people volunteered to take over the duties until they began to see the scope of the role and the resources for which they would be responsible. It was felt that it may be wise to incorporate the POOS organisation in order to protect the resources that so many people had very generously donated over many years. This has allowed Mark and Colette Rickard to share the duties around among a larger group of people. At an Annual General Meeting held during the 2009 Trials a Steering Committee was formed to oversee the incorporation process and to prepare a suitable Constitution for the organisation. At the 2010 AGM it was unanimously decided that POOS would become incorporated and thus, after completion of the appropriate paperwork, on September 10th 2010 POOS INC was born. Since the incorporation, a Management Committee has been formed and consists of a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and Ticketing Officer. These roles are elected annually at the AGM during the Australian Trials and all members are welcome to volunteer for any of these or the many other small tasks that are required to keep an organisation of the scope of POOS Inc progressing.
Over the many years of its existence the Aims of POOS have developed to become:
- To provide enjoyable social occasions in which relatives, partners and friends of swimmers can meet and make friendships to provide support for each other.
- To ensure that supporters are able to sit together in acceptable seating, that is within the budget of the greatest majority of members, to form a cheer squad to support Australian Swimmers at international events and to support each other, at all events, in the good times and the bad as there are sure to be some of each.
- To encourage parents of potential future Australian representative swimmers to join POOS before their swimmers make their international debut so that there will be some familiar faces to look out for their swimmers if the parents are unable to travel to the international competitions and some familiar faces to look out for the parents if they are.
- To represent the interests of POOS on any items of discussion with Swimming Australia, event organisers etc and to communicate items of interest discussed to the membership.