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Rackley Swimming’s cross-border expansion embraces Sydney’s multiculturalism

April 8th, 2024

One of Queensland’s most experienced and awarded swim centre operators, Rackley Swimming, has entered the New South Wales market after taking over the management rights of the Smithfield Pool at 62 Market Street.

The new management commenced swim classes in February with more than 1000 assessments booked for the opening week.

Chief operating officer Jay Clarke says Rackley Swimming aims to take on New South Wales with the same approach that has seen them grow to become one of the biggest operators in Queensland, and the multicultural suburb is the perfect place to dip their toe in the water.

“Our aim is to become a significant player in the New South Wales swim school market, and we are looking to replicate a similar approach to our South East Queensland framework with steady growth over a 25 year period,” says Clarke.

“We’re confident that with our dedication to quality programs and our passion for teaching, we’ll make a splash in no time.”

Commencing as a single swim school in Burleigh Heads back in 1997, Rackley Swimming has grown to employ more than 1000 staff and have more than four million annual visitations across their 34 facilities. Over their quarter century in the industry, seven swimmers who have gone through the Rackley program have gone on to compete in the Commonwealth or Olympic Games.

Clarke adds that while NSW is the first expansion state, they are also eyeing other states for future growth.

“We’re on the lookout for communities where our learn-to-swim programs can really make a difference,” he says. “We’re committed to bringing our swim family to the rest of Australia, ensuring that all kids have the chance to learn to swim and love the water.”

A multicultural experience

Smithfield is a suburb rich in ethnic diversity, and Rackley Swimming has employed a number of instructors from a range of backgrounds to contribute to more effective and culturally appropriate training, including Friday women-only classes established particularly but not exclusively for Muslim women.

Clarke says drowning is the third-leading cause of accidental death, and widespread teaching of water safety skills is the key to bringing these numbers down.

“In Smithfield we’ve welcomed a lot of families who have older children 10-plus who are true non-swimmers. Sadly, we’ve heard stories that in other swim schools they were put into lessons with kids as young as three for four. We know this can be damaging to self-esteem and confidence so we’ve adapted our levels to ensure these students (and adults) are able to learn alongside peers the same age to build their confidence as well as their skill,” he says.

In Smithfield with 11.4 per cent of the community comes from Syria, 9.2 per cent from Vietnam and 9 per cent from Iraq. Of these, only 31 per cent speak English as the only language at home. Rackley Swimming has employed a number of instructors from these backgrounds to contribute to more effective and culturally appropriate training.

“We recognise that migrants, especially those who come from landlocked countries or areas where swimming is unaffordable or seen as a luxury leisure activity, face a multitude of barriers that means they may not be as confident swimmers.

“Our incredibly diverse team of 19 swim instructors herald from a range of cultural backgrounds. More than half of our team are proud first or second Australian immigrants including Iraqi, Taiwanese, Malaysian, Bolivian, Fiji Indian, Indonesian, Laos-Thai and Turkish,” he says.

While Rackley Swimming Smithfield is already open, there will be a grand opening at Smithfield on Saturday 13 April and the whole community is invited to enjoy a fun filled day.

Image supplied: Rackley Smithfield

By Chris Maher
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