AIM carnival folds due to lack of help

AN award-winning swimming carnival for the disabled has been sunk by a lack of support.

The AIM Swim Carnival started a decade ago and last year attracted more than 160 swimmers to the Wodonga Leisure Centre.

But the committee, which had diminished to just two people in the past four years, called it quits late last year.

Chief organiser Rob Newman hoped the drastic move would spark some interest from others in the community.

“In some ways that was the most disappointing part of it all,” he said.

“In recent years when we have called for others to be involved there has been deafening silence.

“I thought people would rally when they heard it was finishing but I think I’ve had four emails.

“We could have started again in a heartbeat with a bit of backing.”

Mr Newman said the carnival was originally part of the Festival of Sport, attracting support from Albury and Wodonga councils.

He said when the YMCA took over the Leisure Centre the carnival date was written into the contract.

“We had such great support from the council and businesses — Beasleys used to provide the meat, Bakers Delight the bread, there were so many who looked after us.

“Last year we had 160 swimmers there, about 300 people with family and friends.

“It was a swimming carnival with races but what it also did was help improve their swimming.

“The carnival was the lure to teaching less-abled people how to swim.”

The carnival itself won awards in 2005 and 2006 for the best aquatic program in Victoria and for community participation.

But after 10 years the AIM Swimming Carnival will be no more.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make but the reality was we just couldn’t keep it going by ourselves,” Mr Newman said.

“I was told five years ago it would fold and kept it going all this time.

“The committee was disbanded in November last year, this was due to the members, most of whom have been on the committee for 10 years standing down and no new people willing to help with the organisation and running of the event.

“We tried to continue to run the event by other means but in the end it just wasn’t viable.”