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Exciting time for diving legacy project as Commonwealth Games edge closer

There’s less than 100 days to go until the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games begin but work is well underway on the West Midlands Diving Strategy.

The project aims to provide a long-lasting diving programme in the West Midlands and here, Olympian Sarah Barrow, Swim England West Midlands diving development officer, gives an update on the scheme.

As the countdown to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games edges ever closer, it is a really exciting time for the West Midlands Diving Strategy.

Our goal is simple – to help create an inclusive and sustainable diving programme in the West Midlands up to and beyond the Commonwealth Games.

Things are moving in the right direction and we firmly believe the project will be capable of producing future international medallists.

A number of key objectives in the strategy have been achieved so far and these are: 

Diving pathway

A third diving pool within the region – Walsall Gala Baths – will be opening its Diving Lessons Programme on 10 May.

In partnership with the Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF), free taster sessions were given during the Easter Holidays in April.

Places Leisure in the West Midlands will be upskilling their swimming teacher workforce in May to be able to deliver diving lessons on the poolside through the Stage 8-10 CPD.

The Sandwell Diving Club steering group is in the recruitment process. This is an exciting project which will kick start a new diving club in the West Midlands.

Widening participation

In the last update, programmes had decreased in numbers but it was felt that they will continue to increase in numbers especially in the lead up to and beyond the Commonwealth Games. 

All programmes are now at full capacity and the next step will be to open more sessions in the current programmes. 

The Inspired to Try project for the West Midlands will open up pools with diving boards around the region for a “Come and Try” offer. 

Half-hour sessions for the whole day will be made accessible to anyone that can swim 25m in a depth of more than 3.5m. 

Part of the Inspired to Try project will be working with schools and active partnerships to promote activity with a toolkit.

Open day sessions have been booked in at Wyndley Leisure Centre, Walsall Gala Baths and Tudor Grange Leisure Centre.

In partnership with British Blind Sport, children who were visually impaired and blind took part in diving lessons in between the Swimming Gala. 

These sessions, as well as a case study from Harrogate Diving Club, have inspired sessions within the region for children who have a disability or learning difficulty. 

Workforce

An assistant coach course took place in Everyone Active’s Tudor Grange Leisure Centre in April where six candidates passed the course funded by The Swimming Trust and The CB & HH Taylor 1984 Trust.

These coaches are based within the West Midlands and the next assistant coach course will take place in October.

Three assistant coaches are ready to take on the next step and do their coach course in Southend in May. 

Four coaches have been recruited in to the West Midlands Coach Mentorship programme and will work with me for 12 months. 

The coaches will be visiting some of the larger diving centres in the country to assist the programmes and gain experience by seeing a full diving pathway. This programme is funded by the Swimming Trust.

Relationships have started to build with key universities and higher education establishments to produce interest in volunteering and coaching.

Already, a couple of candidates have taken the assistant coach course with more students interested in the forthcoming opportunities.

Partnership delivery

Funding has been awarded from various amounts of Trust Funds within the West Midlands.

This will help attract a workforce from the community, enable diving centres to run free sessions for children with disabilities and train young volunteers to spot talent for diving and market the programmes to communities that may not normally be reached.

There is still plenty of work to do in the coming months and I’ll provide further updates as the Games rapidly approach.

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