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Northampton Swimming Club and their return to training post-lockdown

Northampton Swimming Club coach Jacquie Marshall says staying positive is key as the club have adapted and begun a safe return to training.

Some clubs have been able to secure pool time since swimming pools started to reopen on Saturday 25 July – although others are still unable to get in the water as their local facility is yet to open.

Jacquie explains that although her club have been ‘lucky’ enough to arrange pool time for their swimmers, it has not been a normal return to the water given the circumstances.

However, the club have remained positive while ensuring safety is the main priority.

She said: “We’ve always had a very positive outlook to this, as much as we can.

“When lockdown first happened we had meetings with swimmers and parents and we talked about how this wasn’t going to be a sprint. This wasn’t going to be over and done with in three weeks. This is more like a marathon and we planned accordingly.

“We didn’t go mad with our land work, we did lots of other life skill sessions – cooking etc. And it’s been the same coming back into the water.

“If you’re positive and you’ve got belief that what’s going to happen is fine and it will be good and there will be progression, then the swimmers will believe that and so will the parents.

“I think positivity moving forward is what’s important really.

“We’re confident in our ability and I think if you talk positively and you make people understand that, you’re going to look at your children very individually. We have world class swimmers who still have Tokyo as their dream and we will be still pursuing that.

“So whilst there’s no competitions at the moment, training will be key and we will be building on that. But in this first period, there’s no race.”

What about those who can’t return to the training yet?

“For us, it’s nice that we can get into the pool now in July but from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, I think that provided the swimmers have done some alternative stuff, some land work and things like that, they’re going to be rested and in a good place physically and mentally.

“I think as long as they embrace what they’re doing and do things right, they’ll be surprised at how quickly they will come back, whether they start now or in September.

“I certainly think that those clubs that have been lucky enough to start now, yes it’s lovely and it’s great but it’s still a bit of a false environment. We’re not training as normal.”

Some Northampton swimmers have not returned to training and for those, the coaches have continued to provide advice and training plans.

“There will still be land programmes available for swimmers who aren’t getting back in the water,” Jacquie added.

“We’re giving them advice on stuff that they can do to maintain their aerobic capacity and fitness levels.

“Some of the things we’ve put in place we’ve talked about maybe continuing in a slightly lesser way, but certainly some of the life skills training will continue.”

What does the current training environment look like?

Northampton Swimming Club training session post-lockdown

“We’ve put in a few more protective measures for our coaches, so initially we are going to be coaching using a visor not just a face mask.

“We’ve bought some hand sanitising free-standing pumps which will be on poolside so that the coaches and the swimmers can use those as and when they need to.

“We’re going to make sure that they socially distance really well and that we keep everybody busy and organised.

“We’re also taking temperature checks from our swimmers and we’ve got an online questionnaire that they’re completing every day just to make sure that it’s always at the forefront of their minds.

“When we lead our swimmers out of the pool and back out into the car park we’ve got a member of staff that goes so that they’re the only person pushing the doors.

“We’ve risk assessed some things that we feel are important at the moment. The guidance said to adapt it to your environment and your setting and that’s what we’ve done.

“We want to keep the safety aspect at the forefront of everything so that we can make sure that we can continue.

“The Swim England guidance has helped us significantly so that we had a place to start which was great.

“We’ve embraced that and tried to look at everything so that we had everything in place and we could come back to swimming in a safe manner.”

Jacquie believes that the good relationship between the swimming club and the pool providers has helped secure pool time for their return.

She said: “We work very closely with our pool providers – we believe that’s really important that we do that and build those relationships.

“That’s going to be absolutely key for anybody and certainly something that we’ll continue to do moving forward.

“To build those positive relationships with our pool providers as much as we can so that we can maintain pool time and build our programme on from that.”