NDTSC Performance Squad swimmers set their alarms and braved the blustery conditions to get back into Millfield’s 50-metre Olympic pool on Saturday for the first time this year. Big thanks due to Millfield Sport and West Dorset Swimming Club, and to coaches Colin and (pictured) Rich. The Millfield Saturday sessions – one a month for the time being – help our swimmers get used to more demanding long-course training and competition, after which, by all accounts, 25 metres feels a lot easier! (And by the way, please bookmark our new Swim Manager website that went live last week. The URL has not changed.)
We resumed our full training schedule at RiversMeet, Gillingham, on 13 April, the day after the centre itself reopened as part of the latest stage of the government’s easing of lockdown.
There was an excellent turnout of 33 swimmers, including Pre-Turbos, and eight Performance Squad for their dedicated two-lane slot the following evening.
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“We’re again in RiversMeet’s debt for slotting us straight back in with our regular training schedule almost as soon as they restart themselves – the third time now they have done this,” said NDTSC Chair Alex Wynter.
“As we inch back to normality our coaches will be giving the children time to regain their pre-lockdown fitness, then we can start to think about club time-trials, and – everyone hopes – a return to competition later this year.
“Any and all local youngsters aged from eight to eighteen with an interest in or experience of competitive swimming should get in touch with our secretary, Nikki Hopkins, at email@example.com or our Head Coach, Rich Brocklehurst, at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Competition hardware in the form of deck-level starting blocks at the deep end and anti-wave lane ropes was installed on 15 December at our RiversMeet training base by the Cheltenham engineering firm, Brookforge. The equipment will enable us to hold time trials once Lockdown 3.0 ends, and eventually, it’s hoped, the first licensed competition under Swim England rules at RiversMeet’s 25-metre pool.
“This represents a substantial investment by Turbos and we will be more than happy to look at further improvements to the offering here at RiversMeet,” said the centre’s General Manager, Alan Waistell. “I’m looking forward to helping the club achieve great things.”
Turbos were one of the first competitive swimming clubs in Dorset to restart training in late July, the day after the centre itself reopened after the first lockdown; all three of its squads, including its elite county-level Performance Squad swimmers, were back in the water in December after the second lockdown.
The club hopes to take part in the special Level X events – single-club time trials – established by Swim England in response to Covid-19 restrictions that, for the time being, prevent inter-club meets.
“This kit represents a huge breakthrough for us since, aside from anything else, we no longer have access to the competition pools at Port Regis or St Mary’s schools,” said Chair Alex Wynter. “What we have to hope now is that Swim England can see its way clear to allowing any new personal bests our swimmers achieve in time trials to stand for possible qualification for county and even regional competition.
“Almost all our young swimmers came back to training after the first two lockdowns, but they need a goal and notching up PBs that will take them forward into full-scale competition will help keep them motivated.
“This is also a good moment to pay tribute to my predecessor as club chair, Anne Mowlem, under whose tenure over several years the bulk of the money was raised that has enabled us to buy the equipment that, in effect, saves us as a competitive club.”
Our county-level athletes – the Performance Squad – were back in training in November, but could swim only one session at RiversMeet before everything was closed down the next day by the new lockdown. They resumed on 2 December, and our last session of the year will be Performance Squad on Wednesday 23 December.
The NDTSC Committee had accepted an invitation from RiversMeet to add the 90-minute, two-lane session on Wednesdays to their whole-pool evening slots on Tuesdays and Fridays, which restarted in late July after the first lockdown.
Almost all the club’s 12 Performance Squad swimmers attended the first December session after Lockdown 2.0, which included timed 50-metre sprint trials in the four strokes.
Head Coach Rich Brocklehurst said our swimmers have retained their fitness very well, despite having to rely on months of dryside training over the summer – and missing the spur of real competition.
“We introduced land training for swimmers aged 11 and above just over a year ago in the RiversMeet sports hall,” he said. “The skills they learned during the half-hour sessions immediately before swimming undoubtedly helped them stay match-fit through the first lockdown, and it will help them with this one.”
NDTSC entered 16 swimmers at the most recent Dorset County Championships, at Bournemouth’s Littledown Centre in February. Almost all clocked up at least one personal best for a squad total of 42; the team gained four silver and two bronze medals.