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Coach David Vine says it was ‘fantastic’ to be back at the Winter Championships

Leatherhead Swimming Club’s David Vine says it was ‘fantastic’ to be back on poolside for what was a ‘great opportunity’ for swimmers at the Winter Championships.

After a year away, the Swim England National Winter Championships returned to Sheffield’s Ponds Forge in 2021.

More than 1,600 swimmers competed across the three days, for many of whom it was their first national competition.

Vine, who is the head coach at Leatherhead SC, described it as a ‘great opportunity’ for athletes after the recent struggles caused by the pandemic.

He said: “It’s been a great opportunity to come here and I think it’s been quite an inclusive meet in terms of entries.

“We’ve had eight swimmers at the meet, some of them competing at nationals for the first time, so it’s really been about trying to get them back in this environment and them enjoying what they’re doing here, which has been great really.

“I think the boost of making nationals and being back racing the best swimmers in the country is really important and I think it’s been a real stimulus to their training.

Environment great for learning

“It’s got them going and it was something to look forward to after what has been a really difficult year for a lot of these swimmers.

“They’re competitive people, they want to get out and race and an opportunity to race the best people in the country is great.”

Vine was at Ponds Forge for each day of the competition, describing them as ‘long but great days’.

He explained how being back at a national championships also helped him as a coach, as well as his swimmers, adding: “I think generally it’s been great to catch up with coaching friends and seeing some fantastic swimming over the last three days.

“I think lockdown obviously had its own challenges and a lot of coaches connected up via Zoom and chats that went on.

“But actually just being stood on poolside chatting – we’re all talking about what we’re doing at our clubs and trying to help each other out and what our swimmers are doing – it’s an environment that’s great for learning.

Massive part of the sport

“It’s been fantastic. As a club, during lockdown we did Zooms and online stuff like that, but we’re coaches – we like to work with the athletes and have that connection.

“I think the challenge when we first came out of lockdown was ‘what does it look like?’ ‘Where’s the competitions coming?’ and stuff like that.

“For us to get back into this environment – it’s what we want. We’re competitive people and I think if lockdown has shown anything, it’s shown how adaptable we are to these situations as coaches and athletes.”

Many took to social media following the conclusion of the championships to thank the volunteers and officials that made the event possible.

Vine shared his own ‘massive thank you’ as he continued: “They probably don’t realise how grateful all the swimmers and coaches are.

“It’s a massive part of the sport. Massive thank you to everybody! There’s so many roles that go on that people are unaware of but it makes these events fantastic.”

After a successful competition for Leatherhead, with some personal best times and progression within the squad, Vine believes the Winter Championships were a ‘real stepping stone’ as the club looks ahead to 2022.

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