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A Lifetime of Volunteering

Wally Clarke has recently been elected as President of Swim Ireland for the year 2011-12.

As the new President of Swim Ireland, he will hold a ceremonial role and hopes to be invited to as many clubs as he can visit during his time in office.

Wally’s rise to the top of the Swim Ireland tree comes after many years as a volunteer with his club, Cathal Brugha. Wally has at various times also held the positions of Chair, Secretary and Treasurer of the Irish Water Polo Association, has been a Board Member of Swim Ulster and Treasurer of Swim Ireland.

Following the Murphy report into safeguarding children in sport, Wally chaired the committee which introduced many of the reforms that culminated in the birth of Swim Ireland as we know it today.

In 2001, along with Swim Ireland Secretary Pat Donovan, Wally initiated talks with officials from the sport's European governing body, LEN, which brought the European Short Course Championships to Dublin in 2003.

At a local level, Wally first became club secretary of Cathal Brugha when he was sixteen, and held that post at each of Brugha’s 25th and 50th anniversaries and will be the Club Secretary during next year’s 80th anniversary.

Although a life long Cathal Brugha member, Wally, as a teenage employee, was a member for a short period of the Post Office Swimming Club. He competed in the Irish National Championships in Sligo in the under 16 Breast stroke, but then concentrated on water polo.

His Brugha contemporary, Gerry O’Neill, remembers Wally as “a tough full back, lightning over 5 yards”.

Wally’s family continued his links with Cathal Brugha – his son Kenny playing for Brugha and Ireland and his daughter Esther providing administrative support. The family tradition has been maintained with the recent addition of Wally's grand-daughter Olivia to the Brugha ranks.

As Swim Ireland President, Wally wants to encourage volunteers, swimmers and coaches to progress in their swimming careers.

"Volunteering can be done at any level; it doesn’t have to be a timekeeper or starter. It can be in an administrative role, fundraiser or even selling programmes. Some of the jobs can even be done from your own home, there’s always a role you can slot into”, Wally said.