Beyond the Black Line: diving into the difficult conversations

Cass Joyce CJ
*It’s the best time of your life*, *it goes so quickly*, and other things grown-ups tell you when you are a teenager.

But one of the hardest conversation for teenagers, is one that they probably need the most. That’s the one where we tell them that growing up isn’t always easy and that puberty is a challenging time – especially in this era of social media, meaning this all happens under the microscope of their peers.

Now add to that the pressure of going through all of this in a pair of swimmers.

A pool

Something that Olympic Medalist Daniel Kowalski, who is now General Manager of the Australian Swimmers’ Association, knows all too well – which is why he committed to supporting young swimmers who are navigating the journey of puberty and beyond, with the Beyond the Black Line Project. The program is focused on building a community of swimmers of all ages, as well as their parents and coaches, and providing resources to help navigate through a particularly challenging time in young swimmer’s lives.

“We were finding from statistics and data that the sport of swimming was losing a number of kids in these teenage years,” he said. “So, we developed a program that tackles these issues, keeps members engaged and support them to enjoy the sport a little bit longer.”

Enter Adelphi Digital.

“When the opportunity to pitch for this project came up, I knew it would be perfect for us,” said Neil Shewan, Australian CEO of Adelphi Digital. “Our multidisciplinary digital team is very passionate about working with causes and providing the best possible solution to meet their goals.”

On your mark.

Beyond the Black Line grew from the Queensland based Growing up in Lyrca and Championing Men initiatives – merging the programs, taking them national and becoming more relevant to the current generation.

“We’re tackling issues that young teenagers face on a day-to-day basis as a young kid growing up, and using swimming as the conduit and the conversation starter,” Daniel said.

Adelphi Digital, the Australian Swimmers Association and Swimming Australia joined forces in June 2017 to create an independent brand and platform that could be easily accessed by teenagers, parents and coaches alike.

“By setting up personas and conducting a content audit, we could see the needs of young swimmers and provide a full digital transformation from this idea to a living, independent program,” Neil said.

Get set.

We’ve all seen that middle-aged-guy wearing a backwards cap, sitting backwards on a chair, trying desperately to relate to the youth but failing miserably. It was so important that Beyond the Black Line was not that guy, and that it was a genuinely relatable resource for teenagers.

The best way to do that, get the user’s heroes to validate the project and provide a foundation for a solid community of support and communication.

“We have created a suite of inspiration videos with leading swimmers. It’s great to be able to go into the backend of the website to change and refresh the content, and keep it relevant,” Daniel said.

By putting most these videos and content behind a login wall, and requiring the user to enter their age – each user’s experience is tailored to them and parents can rest assure that the site is safe for their children to use.

It also means that coaches and parents can have a journey tailored to them, and the resources they need to support their kids are just a click away.

“Now, we can answer the questions for the coaches and parents who may be not sure how to have the conversations or know what the issues are,” Daniel said. “It’s really become a one-stop-shop for all of our users to access the support they need.”


Since the launch of the project in November 2017, Beyond the Black Line has provided compelling video advice to over 1600 young swimmers.

In the first month alone, 84% of the users logged on the first time – and they continue to come back.

“Launching the website has been huge a success,” he said. “It is an independent, living resource that has already helped so many people and is available to help them 24/7.”

As the annual funding cycle comes to an end, Daniel hopes that the program can progress into the future and continue to support the next generation of Australian swimmers.

“It’s really important to provide opportunities for our young members in and out of the water,” Daniel said.

“The team have been so proud to do their part for these aspiring young athletes, and work with such an inspirational advocate for both physical and mental wellbeing,” Neil said. “It’s something we are all very honoured to have been involved in.”

Adelphi Style

We’re lucky enough to have Daniel Kowalski, along with other special guests, sharing their expertise at a free event – The Digital Possible Series: Building a community in the digital space.

Interested in joining us? subscribe now.

Ask yourself

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The Melbourne office is offering complimentary 90 minute idea workshops in January/February 2018

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