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GEELONG Swimming Club has glided into the top of the rankings after being named Swimming Victoria's Club of the Year for 2020-21.
The exciting announcement was made on Saturday afternoon at the Swimming Victoria Awards held at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
The 139-year-old club was recognised for its strong performance across financial and club management, membership growth and inclusion.
GSC president Glenn Benson said the club aimed for swimming to be a sport of choice in the Geelong region, and he credited its success to a dedicated team and strong relationship with the City of Greater Geelong.
"We are honoured to have received this award, which recognises the vision and dedication of our amazing committee and coaches, particularly through the challenges of COVID," Mr Benson said.
"We're also very thankful to the council for its ongoing support.
"We're fortunate to have access to high quality facilities, and the year-round opening of Kardinia Aquatic Centre has been particularly beneficial for our athletes."
In the face of COVID-19 challenges, the GSC increased its membership base by 78 per cent last year while offering reduced fees during the period of forced closure.
Mr Benson said head coach Sam Ashby and his team continued to work with athletes five days a week via Zoom, before the council's decision to open Kardinia Aquatic Centre during its usual off-season which allowed swim training to resume.
GSC swimmers went on to achieve outstanding success at the Australian Age and Open Championships in April this year, highlighted by gold medals to Hayley Mackinder in the 13 years 100 metre breaststroke and Dylan Logan in the Multiclass 17/18 years 100 metre backstroke.
The 18-member team was the club's largest ever to contest the championships.
Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher said the council and GSC were united in their aims of developing a healthy and active Greater Geelong community.
"Geelong Swimming Club is a great example of the benefit a community sporting club brings to the community," Cr Asher said.
"The club is very inclusive, giving swimmers of all abilities the opportunity to achieve their sporting goals, while being active and forming long-lasting friendships.
"The council is absolutely delighted to support swimming in our region, demonstrated by funding the year-round opening of Kardinia Aquatic Centre in 2021-22.
"We congratulate Glenn, his committee and all club members on their success, which has brought statewide recognition to Geelong."
This most recent award adds to a growing trophy cabinet for GSC, after it also won Club of the Year, Coach of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year at the 2020 Disability Sport and Recreation Awards.
GSC has been based at the city-run Kardinia Aquatic Centre since 1970.