Swim England

A nation swimming

‘We’re over the moon’ … meet the Swim England Clubs of the Year

Richmond Dales picked up the Swimming Club of the Year prize at the Swim England National Awards – months after welcoming a Ukranian family into their community.

After the family were forced to flee their home country due to the invasion, Richmond were quick to give the two youngsters the opportunity to keep swimming.

Chairman Steve Jones said: “I think it highlights the community spirit the club has.

“They’ve been sponsored by people, the club, they’ve been sponsored by a business. 

“Their mother was already a qualified swimming teacher in Ukraine, but unfortunately the UK don’t recognise her qualifications so, therefore, we’re helping her to get a job here, too.”

Steve admitted to being shocked Richmond had collected the honour.

He said: “To be honest, it came as a surprise to win the regional award. 

“That was our highlight, but to come down today with the quality of the nominees and a credit to everybody, it’s really overwhelming to win.”

It was a sentiment echoed by head coach Gordon Ray added: “It’s overwhelming.

“We’re over the moon because no doubt every other club that was nominated was worthy candidates and all of them had their merits – but we obviously ticked more of the boxes by the looks of it.”

Club member Ben Gilchrist said he felt at home at Richmond.

He added: “I’ve been at a few clubs in my time.

“I’ve had many experiences in different places and the second I joined Richmond, I felt I was at home.

“It’s that instant welcome from everybody, from people who I’ve never even met before to swimmers, to everyone I’ve had an interaction with – they have always been very friendly and very open.

“So, I can only say good things and it’s really good to win this award and be recognised for everyone’s efforts to run the club.”

Award caps ‘incredible year’ for City of Sheffield

City of Sheffield Diving Club capped an ‘incredible year’ by being named Diving Club of the Year at the Swim England National Awards.

Nikki Smith, the club’s diving manager and competition organiser, dedicated the honour to the divers, parents, coaches and committee members.

She said: “We’re so happy to win the award and we’re just grateful to be nominated. 

“It feels like all the hard work and effort we’ve put in has been worth it.

“Obviously Ponds Forge had to stay closed for an extra six months [during the pandemic] so we had to go to different pools across the region and do more dryland training just to keep going.

“When we did start back up, we had to close again 10 days later because of the next national lockdown and then we had just a month of training before lockdown three.

“So, we didn’t get that much training in those years so it’s great to come back and just have a full year’s training, let alone win this award.

“We’ve had some special results this year with medallists at the Commonwealth Games, the European Championships, too, and overall it’s some of our best results in the past 10 years so it’s been an incredible year.

“Some of the things we have been nominated for is really important to us. 

“We made a conscious decision that when we came back we just wanted to make diving more accessible especially with all the hardship that people are going through.

“So we’ve been running free diving taster sessions, going into more schools and encouraging more people to get involved in the sport and it’s great to see that’s been recognised.”

“We want to thank all the divers, parents, coaches and committee members just for all their hard work, this award is for them.”

Worthing Water Polo Club

Worthing Water Polo Club picked up a National Award following a remarkable few years.

The club, from a small seaside town on the south coast, were crowned national champions in the Boys’ U17s National Age Group Championships earlier this year, beating City of Manchester in the final.

It continues to produce a number of athletes who have gone on to compete at national and international level.

A pathway has been put in place to aid the development of coaches and officials, which has encouraged senior players to contribute back to the club.

Worthing has provided an inclusive environment, which has given the opportunity of hundreds of children to train, play and compete at the highest level. 

Denton Artistic Swimming Club 

As the only artistic swimming club in Tameside, Denton Artistic Swimming Club are representing the borough by building strong links within the community. 

Denton has run three 12-week academy courses over the last year, which has helped doubled its membership – all ran by a dedicated team of volunteers. 

The club has a large number of nuero-diverse members, which the club supports by adapting to their needs and allowing swimmers to develop at their own pace. 

In the past year, Denton has had successful swimmers at both national and regional events, including in masters competitions where its masters class encourages people to continue within the sport.