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Development Day Progresses Potential of Para-Swimmers

Para-swimmers now know more about how to progress along the Swim England pathway during a training session staged by Swim England South West region on Saturday 26 January at the Plymouth Life Centre.

England talent coach Carl Cooper and former Paralympic athlete David Hill led a pool session for athletes at the event. The day also included a coaching workshop on land-training principles and also explored best practice around supporting para-swimming within clubs.

Hill, who made his Paralympic debut in Athens at the age of 15 and now works closely with the Swim England Para-swimming Talent team, gave advice and guidance to athletes and coaches at the event. He said: “I’m passionate to ensure that athletes who reside in the South West have access to the provision of high-quality coaching and resources without being farmed out of the area. It’s a pleasure for me to draw upon my experience of 15 years in elite sport to support the athletes of the future.”

The development day had something for swimmers of all levels of ability as a Para-swimming Swimmer ID session also took place. It gave those who are new to lessons and swimming the chance to have their ability assessed in a bid to identify their most appropriate local swimming opportunity.

Stephanie GaddStephanie Gadd (pictured), who recently started as the Club Development Officer for the South West, helped with the swimmer ID session, where 13 new swimmers were identified for the Swim England Para-swimming Talent Programme and another four signed off to go on the classification waiting list. 

Stephanie spoke to clubs and para-swimmers during the day and said the event had helped strengthen para-swimming in the region. “It was fantastic to see so many coaches and athletes here – there seems to be a real appetite from the clubs to learn more about para swimming. Hopefully they can take the knowledge they’ve learned back to their clubs to help develop para-swimming and encourage more para-swimmers into the talent pathway.”

Progressing along the pathway

The development day included a land training workshop to help improve athletes’ movement patterns, before swimmers went into the pool to test out what they had learned. It was carried out by Stephen Batchelor, the strength and conditioning lead for the Swim England Para-swimming Talent Programme who said “It was great to help the swimmers develop new movement skills and to see them improve over the course of the day.”

Sam Towers, the secretary of South West Para-swimming Committee, was impressed with the session: “As a coach who has been involved in para-swimming, I cannot express enough how valuable, informative and helpful Steve Batchelor’s workshop was.”

Carl Cooper added: “Development days are a great way of developing the discipline within regions as their flexibility means that teachers and coaches can get the information that they need to help them develop their skills and knowledge – and they also have the opportunity to put that theory into practice on the day. Swimmers of all levels from learn to swim to national Para-Swimming Programme athletes will be attending and getting the help and support they need to progress along the Para-Swimming Pathway. 

"The combination of land training workshops delivered by Steve, and the opportunity to put that into practice in a land training session and pool session with the athletes, helped to reinforce to coaches how land-based activity can enhance and support what the athlete does in the pool.

“The real key to its success is that it all takes place in a supported environment, with specialists on hand to help and support the teachers, coaches and athletes to get the most out of the day and to take something back to their home programmes.”

Simone Cater, a coach at Dinnaton SC, also found the development day helpful and said: “I found the views from all useful to develop para-swimming at our club.”

Plans are now in place to stage another development day in the South West region and anyone interested in attending, or finding out more about para-swimming, should email the Swim England para-swimming team (paraswimming@swimming.org).

Meanwhile, there is still time to enter the South West Regional Para-championships on Saturday 9 March 2019 at Horfield Leisure Centre.

The closing date for entry is Friday 22 February.

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