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Royal seal of approval as lockdown coaching heroes are honoured

Three swimming coaches have been hailed as ‘lockdown heroes’ for their innovative ideas and achievements to keep people active throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

They were among 25 coaches nationwide honoured at the UK Coaching Hero Awards Ceremony in Leeds.

Will Philpot, Crawley Swim Team, Richard Smith, Marlborough Penguins, and Craig Prime, Wrexham Swimming Club, all received a memento from HRH The Princess Royal to mark the accolade bestowed on them.

Marlborough Penguins coach Richard hosted 215 workout sessions on Zoom during the lockdowns, as well as dozens of social events.

For every session, he would create a new workout in a bid to make them engaging and rewarding for all members.

Socials were run every Friday with various games and quizzes, while Richard also used one-to-one sessions to monitor the mental health of members during this challenging time.

Meanwhile, from the start of the lockdowns, Crawley Swim Team’s Will put in placed programmes designed to keep members active.

This included daily activities with live workouts, cardio challenges, land-based routines and even celebratory fitness classes just some of the activities taking place.

Will also held squad and individual sessions to work through goal setting and arranged fun activities success as quizzes, cooking challenges, nutritional and wellbeing Zoom calls plus regular Q&A sessions with swimming legends such as Chad Le Clos, James Guy, Hannah Miley, James Gibson, Teri McKeever, Ian Armiger and many more.

Craig was praised for his consistently proactive approach to adapting training programmes to keep his swimmers engaged, fit and healthy – both physically and mentally.

Incredibly proud

Emma Atkins, UK Coaching’s director of coaching, said: “Many congratulations to all our winners. 

“We applaud your efforts and the role you played in your communities, boosting morale and lifting people’s moods in a completely alienating time.

“Helping people to use sport and physical activity positively through challenging times is a privilege and one which carries huge responsibilities, and you took your duties seriously, using your initiative to create solutions to the embargo on most sport and physical activity – looking always to what was possible – thank you.”

Mark Gannon, UK Coaching’s CEO, added: “Coaching is about people and great coaching is people-focused, so we feared the worse for the nation’s coaching workforce and the people they support when the restrictions were implemented. 

“Yet, we are masters of our own fate and, as such, thousands of coaches ripped up the rule book and used innovation, technology and hard graft to connect with their participants virtually, delivering great coaching experiences.  

“Naturally, the stories of our ‘lockdown coaches’ were so good that tens of thousands of people used their thumbs to give kudos to their favourite coach. 

“You supported, guided and inspired people to achieve goals and transform their lives through something unprecedented. We’re incredibly proud of you – well done.”  

Nominations for the UK Coaching Hero Awards opened in 2020 after the first nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

From 500 suggestions, a long list of 75 coaches representing 40 different sports from 65 areas across the country was chosen for a public vote.

More than 65,000 votes were cast in the ballot, which was held during Coaching week 2021, to determined the winners.