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‘New atmosphere’ at Stocksbridge after successful pilot of Level X Racing

Swimmers at Stocksbridge Pentaqua say Swim England’s new Level X Racing has brought a ‘new atmosphere’ to their club.

Without any racing since the start of the coronavirus lockdown as events were cancelled, the recognised national governing body recently launched a new virtual concept.

Stocksbridge were one of eleven clubs to pilot the new idea, which allows swimmers to pit themselves against others from across the country without leaving their home pool.

After a successful test, there were smiles all round as the Sheffield-based club were excited for what the future looked like with Level X Racing.

Fourteen-year-old Amelia Theobald said: “It’s been amazing getting back in the pool and back to racing.

“I think everyone’s enjoyed it a lot because it’s brought a new atmosphere to the club and made us try a lot harder in training and work for a goal that we haven’t been able to work for during lockdown.

“It’s just the atmosphere, the noise of the pool, everyone supporting each other – you feel like a club.”

Being within the comfort of your own pool also means swimming against your team-mates and friends – a challenge which 13-year-old Rowan Blunkett enjoys.

He said: “It’s been really fun actually, because we all have competitions in our swimming sessions but we’ve never actually been in a gala where we’re side-by-side racing.

“I guess it’s been harder because you train with them all the time so you’re not really used to racing against them in a proper race but it’s been fun.”

Due to coronavirus safety measures such as social distancing, Level X Racing is certainly different to what many athletes may be used to.

Everyone’s enjoying it

However, this hasn’t affected the mood at Stocksbridge, with 22-year-old swimmer Lucy Bye explaining that it is ‘good to be back’.

She said: “It’s really nice, especially after having so long not training or even being near a pool.

“It’s really good to be back training and Level X Racing has given us an opportunity to get back into some racing. It’s been really fun.

“It’s obviously different with having social distancing in place and having a reduced number of swimmers in the pool but it’s still good fun to be back and everyone’s enjoying it which is the main thing as well.”

The club’s competition secretary, Jayne Neal, also revealed that the swimmers are now used to the procedures that are in place during training sessions, so the new concept was ‘really easy’ to organise.

“It was really nice to be able to get back to organising something like a gala,” Jayne added. “It’s such a long time since we’ve been able to do that.

“We have procedures in place anyway for training, so it was really just thinking around those and extending those to cover this kind of situation.

“Some things we’ve had to extend are making sure where the swimmers would be in their pods between races, and the marshalling procedure for races as well to make sure swimmers didn’t pass each other.”

Pete Lilley, Stocksbridge chairperson and an official at the pilot event, has a bright outlook on the future of Level X Racing.

He said: “It’s been really good and gone really well. I can definitely see us using this moving forward.

“There was no problems and it was nice to get back officiating actually – I’ve really missed it.”