Swim England

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Swim England creating resource for coaches to support athletes with eating disorders

A new educational resource to help club-level aquatics coaches support athletes who may be struggling with eating disorders is being created by Swim England.

The creation of the resource aligns with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week which takes place from 28 February – 6 March and aims to fight the misunderstandings that surround eating disorders.

The resource will consist of a referral pathway and is being produced by Swim England’s sports science and medicine manager Diane Elliot and performance nutritionist Laura Salmon.

The new pathway will include information on where athletes can get support in their local areas and examples of screening questionnaires for coaches and sports science staff to use to help identify those who need further support.

It will also contain GP referral letter templates to allow athletes to get appropriate support from their GP and gives athletes guidance on how to discuss the matter with medical professionals.

‘It’s important this guidance exists’

The purpose of the resource is to help vulnerable athletes who may be suffering to locate and obtain the support they need.

Speaking on the piece of work, Elliot said: “Swim England is committed to ensuring aquatics clubs foster open and healthy environments for every athlete and we are creating this resource to help those efforts.

“This is a sensitive area that often goes under the radar – which is why we are collating this resource in the hopes that it becomes an accessible, helpful and positive tool in aiding those who may need it.”

Salmon holds an MSc in Sports Nutrition from Loughborough University, is on the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr), and is currently in the process of obtaining a Master of Science degree in Dietetics.

She has also worked with Sheffield Hallam University for the past three years in her role as a performance nutritionist.

During her tenure there she has worked closely with the City of Sheffield Swim Squad and hopes that the creation of this resource will act as a ‘helpful and educational tool’ for club coaches should they require it.

She said: “Identifying athletes in the first instance who may need help is one of the greatest tools we can equip sports clubs and coaches with. Early intervention is key to successfully helping those with any form of disordered eating.

“No one should feel as though help is out of reach for them. It’s important this guidance exists to combat barriers which may prevent individuals from being afforded the assistance they require.”

It will become available to clubs and coaches in due course.