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Inspirational keynote from Chris Cook at Teaching and Education Conference

Olympian and now motivational speaker and business owner Chris Cook’s keynote speech at the Swim England Teaching and Education Conference has been labelled as ‘inspirational’.

Following an introductory message from Swim England chief executive, Jane Nickerson, Chris opened up about his own struggles during the pandemic, some of the positives to come out of 2020 as well as taking questions and providing advice for those on the call.

Swimming teachers, coaches, educators and swim school owners joined the virtual conference via Zoom, with many thanking Chris for his incredible insight and honesty.

The 42-year-old spoke passionately about the benefits of teamwork and helping one another, saying: “It takes all of us to make one of us successful.

“I learnt this over the last year on the Swim England network and Zoom calls. As the pandemic kicked off, I decided to join the calls because I wasn’t doing anything, it wasn’t like I was busy!

“I joined the call and what I found was a group of people all asking questions and sharing. None of us really had the answers – we had plenty questions and a million unknowns – but we had started to collaborate on a level that had never happened before.

“I’m no stranger to working in teams and playing my part but this was something else – it was something really special.

“Over the course of the weeks to come, and the months to come, the group shared ideas, information, created a hive of activity – all that. We brought best practises forward to pull together some of the guidance that we’ve seen.”

Facing the challenge

As Chris continued, he touched on a point which will resonate with all of those involved in aquatics, saying: “We all have something to contribute to this journey, we all have something special to share, but it starts with facing the challenge.

“When we learn to get from the day not just get through the day, then we get so much it can teach us.

“Some days more than others, granted, but every day gives, you just have to be open to see it. We just have to be ready.”

Like most, Chris’s businesses struggled during the start of the pandemic as conferences and speaking gigs were cancelled and swimming pools closed.

After some initial reluctance, he began to offer virtual speeches and offered advice to others on how to overcome their own challenges.

“It’s incredible what can happen when we open our minds to owning what’s in the way,” he added.

As the keynote drew to a close, Chris left everyone with some wise words: “Remember what you’re capable of, remember why you’re here. Keep swimming.”