By Meredith Roberts//Contributor | Friday, March 31, 2017
As General Chair of Minnesota Swimming for the past four years, Jim Hanton has played a key role in the LSC’s growth and improvements. Besides his day to day duties of strategic planning, leading the board of directors and working with the budget, Hanton helps to organize the team of volunteers behind Minnesota Swimming. He explains that his main goal has been to help facilitate the efforts of really dedicated board members: “The well-accepted common objective is to serve athletes. It’s always about the athletes.” The board works on creating and executing new projects to create a better experience for everyone in the LSC. Hanton helps the community stay on track with their goals. “I’m there to hold people accountable, for cheerleading and supporting and commending people for their efforts.”
With all that Hanton has accomplished, he’s most proud of his role in bringing new initiatives to Minnesota Swimming. The Facility Development Initiative has worked to create a fund within their financial structure for assisting clubs that need pool construction or pool renovation. Hanton explains,“We realized that every time a pool or facility is closed, it has a negative impact on the community we serve. We had to find a way to ‘put our money where our mouth is’ and show support.” Although the budget isn’t deep enough to build a brand new facility, it pays off that they’re able to contribute to helping clubs and their facilities. It has meant more options for both training and competition for Minnesota Swimmers.
Another program that Hanton set into action is the Competitive Excellence Program. The program came to fruition based on the question of “What can we do to raise the outcome of athletes across the spectrum?” With the recent approval of this program, Minnesota Swimming will be implementing a lot of new opportunities to help all athletes. Coaches will be offered extra support through enhanced professional training and a new mentor program. They hope to bring in a business consultant to help organizations attract new athletes to the sport. Swimmers will have more opportunities to participate in training camps and open water swimming. Hanton explains, “It’s not just for the elite. Competitive Excellence is for swimmers across the board. We want to make sure our athletes continue to improve and perform at a higher level.”
For Hanton, giving back to the sport comes naturally. He grew up swimming in Minnesota and met his wife, Carrie while they were both competing at Hamline University. He was a swim parent to their kids Rick, Jamie and Jack and couldn’t stand sitting in the stands, so he ended up becoming an official. From there, it was an easy progression to the board.
Hanton says the reasons he volunteers are endless: “I know that I can help and I truly enjoy the people and the kids. I had a ten year old kid come up to me and say ‘thank you.’ To me, that makes it all worth it.” Volunteering is an important way to show kids how to give back. Hanton says, “It’s great modeling for the kids when they see you volunteering. It shows them commitment and helps them to realize that what they’re doing as athletes is important.” Although his four year term as Chair ends in April, Hanton has no plans to walk away from the sport. Look for him on deck officiating and finding other ways to give back. “It’s all about the pay it forward,” he says.