Children’s love for swimming encouraged Dad to become a swimming coach

Dad becomes coachSwim England caught up with Martin Wilson last month to discuss his family’s passion for swimming, how they have coped with pool closures, and training with the Institute of Swimming through the pandemic.

To say that the Wilson family enjoy swimming would be a huge understatement.  Their involvement started from their daughter, Katie’s first baby water confidence session, and since then they have all been involved in the swimming community in varying ways. Martin and his wife Claire both felt it was incredibly important for their daughters Katie (11) and Jessica (8) to learn to swim from a young age so they could be safe and confident around water. Both the girls progressed through and completed the Learn to Swim programme, and due to their love for swimming and their talent for the sport they have continued on to swim and compete at club level. In 2018, Katie started at the Doncaster DARTES elite training club and Martin was approached to help out. He completed his level-1 coaching course that year and became an Assistant Swimming Coach. Martin now coaches ten hours per week as a volunteer at DARTES and Armthorpe ASC swimming clubs. Also, Claire, who is not a swimmer herself has become a Welfare Officer for DARTES.

“Better flexibility to fit around my life.”

In 2020 Martin was being encouraged by the Head coach at Jessica’s club to complete his level 2 coaching course to become a Swimming Coach, and it was Claire who spotted the online coaching courses offered by the Institute of Swimming (IoS). Martin had already completed a free online learning course ‘Introduction to Disability Swimming’, which he really enjoyed, and so it was a no-brainer to complete the online training for the Swimming Coach qualification.

Watch the video to find out how Martin found his remote training experience.

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Coaching qualifications motivate lockdown challenges 

Katie and Jessica have managed to stay motivated through all the lockdowns and restrictions thanks to Dads coaching experience. Martin wrote daily coaching plans which included a variety of drills and technique work.

“For the lockdowns, we always set ourselves challenges, such as swim the English Channel and back in a month (tethered), complete an Ironman distance in a month, 21 press-ups for 21 days and run a marathon in a month.”

“By the 23  March 2021 Katie will have covered 1000 miles of Swim-Bike-Run in exactly 1 year.

It is clear that Katie and Jessica are very self-motivated and so don’t require a lot of encouragement from Dad! However, the structure Martin put in place and the feedback he provided as a qualified swimming coach has been crucial in enabling the continued swimming success his daughters have had over the last year.

The girls also had regular land training sessions via zoom that were run by DARTES and led by the head coach. These included strength and conditioning workouts a couple of times a week. Also, whenever pools were open in 2020, Katie and Martin would make the most of it, 

We swam a lot, we swam as much as we possibly could!”

The Wilson family are very much looking forward to when pools can reopen again and were advocates for the #Openourpools campaign! Katie has a real passion for swimming and is really missing it.

[Katie] it’s the real underpinning of her whole life, is swimming at the minute, more than anything else in her life it’s her most important thing without a shadow of a doubt.”

Also, wife Claire is keen to get in the pool, about a year ago now she identified that she fancied doing some adult swimming lessons, with the Learn to Swim programme. She will look into this again once pools reopen.

Although it is clear that Martin’s initial involvement in the swimming community was influenced by his daughters’ love for the sport. He has said that… 

“I enjoy coaching at all levels and expect to continue to coach and be involved in swimming for a number of years. I may even take my teaching qualifications next!