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Blog: Dive West Midlands in full swing as we build towards Birmingham 2022

Sarah BarrowSince joining Swim England in June 2019, Olympian Sarah Barrow has been busy developing diving in the West Midlands ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. She shares the latest updates as the sport makes an impression in the region.

It was exciting to see the buzz around Sandwell Aquatics Centre as the media got a glimpse of the venue which will host the swimming and diving events for Birmingham 2022.

I was able to meet local journalists, the Minister of Sport Nigel Adams, the Secretary of State for culture, media and sport Oliver Dowden and the CEO of the organising committee Ian Reid at the event. It was the perfect opportunity to chat about how the venue will inspire athletes and the local community up to the Commonwealth Games and beyond.

The plans for Sandwell Aquatics Centre are great – I am enjoying seeing the impact that diving is already having in the region. Then with such a state-of-the-art facility, the impact will only grow in aquatics sports for the West Midlands.

When it opens for public use in 2023, it will become a key part of the pathway to help local divers reach their full potential.

Learning to dive

Developing the Swim England Learn to Dive pathway specifically, for the West Midlands, has been the driving force of my work with Swim England so far.

Having Britain’s best divers at Sandwell Aquatics Centre in 2022 will be a significant boost for the area, but we are most determined to ensure that there are opportunities for all members of the community in the West Midlands to enjoy diving – at whatever level suits them best.

Late last year, we launched the Swim England Learn to Swim Stages 8-10 Diving Programme, with 12 operators from across the West Midlands in attendance.

This showed the significance of the Stage 8-10 offer for swimmers to have the chance to try out a new aquatic discipline. It really is encouraging to see so many local operators committing to providing different avenues for their athletes with the Swim England resources.

Since then, a diving programme has been implemented in Everyone Active’s Tudor Grange Leisure Centre in Solihull and Serco’s Wyndley Leisure Centre in Sutton Coldfield.

Walsall Gala Baths have also proposed to start delivering the programme in March – this will encourage young divers in the area to take part in a new sport.

New career paths

These lessons wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of the upskilled swimming teachers – I have been so impressed with the amount they want to learn.

This impacts hugely on enjoyment, which is seen on the children’s faces. We are starting to see real action in the region and I have been inspired by the passion of local centres and their staff.

We have already had 30 teachers from the West Midlands receive qualifications to start delivering the Stages 8-10 Diving Programme, while a further 80 are scheduled to take part in the Continued Professional Development (CPD) training.

Twelve coaches attended a Diving Assistant Coach course at Tudor Grange and three attended the Diving Coach course in Plymouth.

Birmingham 2022 is still two years away, but I am confident we are making already making an impact to allow diving to be a sport of choice for children in the West Midlands.

If you would like to get started in diving, visit Swim England’s Poolfinder.

Click here to find out more about the Dive West Midlands project.