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'Grateful' Hannah Secher awarded prestigious Mary Black Award

Artistic swimming stalwart Hannah Secher was ‘grateful’ to join the prestigious list of Mary Black Award winners.

The award is presented annually to a person who has provided outstanding service to the sport of artistic swimming which Hannah received at the GoCardless Swim England Artistic Swimming National Age Group Championships earlier this month.

Hannah has been passionate about the sport throughout her life, starting at just eight years old. She’s gone from winning national medals as a young swimmer to becoming head coach of her club – Rugby Artistic Swimming Club – for 20 years and judging at the highest levels of the sport.

Speaking after collecting the award a surprised Hannah said: “I’m absolutely humbled.

“I don’t see myself in the same way as all the previous winners, that’s just in my nature really. For me it’s about supporting the children within the sport more than anything.

“This isn’t something you go into expecting accolades, it’s just not really why you do it.

“But I’m very grateful and thankful to be recognised, especially after what has been quite a difficult 18 months with everything that’s been going on and changing within the sport.”

“I just want to try and give everybody those opportunities”

As a current member of Swim England’s Artistic Swimming Leadership group, Hannah was shocked to find out that the award had been kept a secret from her right until the last moment in Crawley.

“They did well because normally I find out everything. I’m like the gossip queen of artistic swimming so they did very well at keeping that from me I must say.”

This past 18 months, Hannah has gone above and beyond more than ever before as she’s been an integral part of integrating the sports new rules into the artistic swimming community across the country.

She’s done all this whilst helping Rugby continue to thrive at all levels and also judging at the very top of the sport – including at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha earlier this year.

And despite it being a difficult transition at times Hannah’s drive comes from being able to give children opportunities within the sport.

“There’s lots of factors that have gone into it (integrating the rules changes). Actually understanding the new system is a big thing in itself and being one of the people in the middle that get the information from World Aquatics and then try and to pass it on in the right way and the right format is difficult.

“I’m sure we haven’t been perfect at it but we’ve done our best in terms of trying to do it the right way and I couldn’t do it without all the support from all those around me in and out of the sport.

“I’ve now been head coach at Rugby for nearly 20 years and that’s been a labour of love and it continues to be.

“Again I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it and what’s also really important to me is that children get success in whatever level they’re at so if they just want to come and participate then great but if they’re more ambitious and want to do better then great too. I just want to try and give everybody those opportunities.”

Advice for others

Hannah says that anyone thinking of volunteering at events should do so – and not to be worried about getting involved.

“I think my best piece of advice would be to not worry too much. There’s a tendency to think that artistic swimming looks really complicated and it puts a lot of people off coming into it.

“Yes, It can be complicated, it can be difficult but we’re still learning 20 years on so there’s no rush.

“Once you’re in, you really grow to enjoy it and have a passion for it and you can see what it gives to children and to master swimmers as well.

“You can help out in whatever way you like, so just take your time and get in touch with your local club, get onto poolside or on the balcony and see what it’s all about.”

You can look through the prestigious list of Mary Black award winners here and you can find out more about volunteering here.