Swansea University’s Athletic Union president Dan Ryan-Lowes talks to the Waterfront about his experiences this year and his plans for the future.
The man affectionately known as ‘Flash’ will step down from his position this summer, and bring to an end the era of Swansea University’s Athletic Union.
“I felt an awful lot of pressure at the beginning of the year and to be honest the pressure has grown all year, but I think I have grown with that pressure as the President.
“The AU has such a long reputation and heritage, and sport in Swansea has always been one of the major draws for the University, it was one of the main reasons why I came here.
“But especially with the AU ceasing to exist quite soon, I wanted to go out with a big bang to show everyone it’s not a failing union; it’s still as popular as it’s always been.
“I’ve enjoyed the sports side of the job more than the office side.
“Going down on a Wednesday afternoon to watch the sports teams, having a chat with people be it sports reporters, or people just coming down to watch, or the team mates of the players, I enjoyed the experience.”
Ryan-Lowes is proud of the changes he brought to the AU this year with his open door policy and the bigger integration of Facebook into the everyday life of the AU.
He said: “I’ve always had this year an open door policy, whether you’re a club captain, a team player or just someone looking to join the AU.
“I always wanted people to feel at ease enough to come in and talk to me about sport and let me help in any way I could.
“Also, I expect a lot of my captains to disagree with me, but one of the biggest improvements I made was to make the AU more approachable and more open and to make it easier to access information.
“Such as the AU captains group on Facebook, if I needed to get information out there quickly, students are more likely to look at Facebook than they are their emails, the Facebook group was a huge benefit to me.”
It has not all been positive for Ryan-Lowes who has seen students frustrated by major delays in AU cards.
“The AU cards issue was a problem that we could not see any easy way out of, but we did in the end,” said Ryan-Lowes.
“The club captains dealt with the whole situation superbly, it wasn’t just me but the AU as a collective who overcame the problem, and we worked as a group to resolve it.”
The AU President was forced to endure one of the worst Welsh Varsity days in recent years with Swansea winning just five of the sporting events.
He said: “All I can say was that I was absolutely gutted all day.
“I honestly thought this would be our year, we’d had a fantastic season in Bucs.
“But I wouldn’t dream of blaming anyone, I know everyone put in 100%, if not more.”
Ryan-Lowes remains uncertain as to where his future lies but has decided to take a year out after what has been a strenuous year.
“I don’t know what the future holds to be honest.
“I’m still young even if I don’t look it; I’m looking at a load of different things right now, masters, PGCE’s, jobs.
“I just don’t want to be too serious just yet. I’ve been a student for four years, then this job.
“I want to do something for a year first, I want to go, disappear and do what I want for a year, and then we shall see.”
Ryan-Lowes wishes Sports Officer Elect, Imogen Stanley, the best of luck for the year ahead and has reserved some special advice for her ahead of her taking over next term.
He added: “If I was going to give her any advice it would be that your greatest allies are your club captains.
“I came to the job not wanting to have a divide between me and them, as in me dictating to them but rather working with them.
“Quite a few of my really good friends now are club captains and committee members who I only met back in autumn.
“Just embrace the job you’re in and embrace the people you work with, because you get to work with some fantastic people.
“Enjoy the job, don’t let a single loss get you down and celebrate every win to the maximum.”