WHILE other young men his age are out with their friends or playing video games, Joshua Barlin spends his weekends as a volunteer coach at the local swim centre.
The 19-year-old has been recognised as the Youth Volunteer of the Year and was a swimmer with the Armidale Amateur Swimming Club for years before he decided to coach swimming himself.
“We’re a volunteer not-for-profit club and we’ve been around since the 1930’s, I became a coach a couple of years ago and we do a range of programs, we get the kids, we put them in the water and help them learn to swim competitively, for fitness or just for socialising depending on what their goals are.
“I was a swimmer with the club up until a few years ago and then I decided to coach swimming myself and I really enjoy it, the kids have fun and I enjoy teaching them,” Joshua said.
There are multiple paid swimming organisations in Armidale but Joshua believes that the volunteer club makes swimming lessons more accessible to low-income earners.
The cost of lessons at the Armidale Amateur Swimming Club is a yearly insurance fee but the cost of lessons is the pool-entry fee.
“Swimming is an important skill to have if you go to the beach, it can help you in those types of situations but also it’s good because it’s not as much of a financial burden,” Joshua said.
Joshua also teaches kids with disabilities in his role and finds it incredibly rewarding.
“The kid that I coach the most is completely deaf and you have to remember to gesture what you want him to do and sometimes he has some interesting interpretations.
“Of course being near a pool we’ve tried whiteboards several times but of course they get wet and the markers are destroyed because we don’t have a storage area for them,” he laughed.
ClubsNSW president Patrick Crick presented the award and Joshua said that he was humbled to be recognised.
“I’m glad that they recognise volunteering as a whole rather than any particular people but it’s good that they’re doing that,” he said.
Armidale Regional Council Administrator Ian Tiley gave a speech and commended all of the volunteers on their dedicated service to the community.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of what makes communities great,” he said.
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