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Unsung heroes recognised at Swim England National Awards

Swim England News

Some of England’s finest swimming teachers, volunteers and participants recognised at the Swim England National Awards 2017 at the University of Birmingham.

The event took place at the university’s Great Hall, and recognised the vast contribution of individuals and organisations from all areas of the sport.

Jane Nickerson, Swim England CEO, said: “We have so many inspirational people involved at all levels of our sport and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to celebrate them at the Swim England National Awards.

“The day is also about thanking those behind the scenes who continue to encourage us to do our best, particularly our family and friends, and I am thrilled that so many people were able to join us in Birmingham.

“On behalf of all everyone involved with swimming, I would like to congratulate all our finalists for their achievements.”

Carole Lister wins Services to Aquatics Award

Carole was presented with the Services to Aquatics award for her tireless dedication to swimming. She has worked with Market Harborough Swimming Club, City of Leicester Swimming Club and for Leicestershire and Rutland ASA for nearly 40 years.

Carole said: “I’m completely overwhelmed by the award, I never thought I’d win. I’ve always enjoyed swimming so much. It’s been such a pleasure to watch swimmers progress and go on to nationals and even higher.”

Lois May Rodgers received the Learn to Swim Award for her impressive progress in learning to swim. She developed an overwhelming fear of the pool inlet and outlet grills on the pool floor and around poolside as a young child.

However, this did not stop Lois turning up each week ready to try and overcome and beat her phobia. Over the last 12 months, Lois has achieved her Learn to Swim Stage 4 Award and is getting ever closer towards swimming over the “dreaded drain”.

Swim England Achievement Award winners

Tegan Gibson won the Achievement Award – Youth Participant. Tegan lost her best friend Millie in a car accident in 2016, and decided to swim the distance from Warminster to the Principality Stadium and back; a staggering 156 miles, 9984 lengths in 78 days. She began on 16 January 2017 swimming at least two miles a day.

She was dedicated to her goal and received a tremendous amount of support. Tegan raised £2,220 to buy a memorial bench dedicated to Millie to be placed in school grounds.

Tegan said: “I decided to do the sponsored swim in memory of my friend who died in a car accident. My family and I come from Wales and love the rugby, so I thought I’d swim to Principality Stadium and back.

“The hardest thing was getting up in the morning at six o’clock. My final session I swam two miles and Paralympian Steph Millward came down to swim the final leg with me.”

The Swim England Achievement Award – Disabled Participant went to Matthew Davis for his progress within the sport of diving.

Matthew has ataxic cerebral palsy, pathological demand avoidance disorder, autism, dyspraxia, and epilepsy. This affects Matthew’s coordination, movement, understanding, speech, social skills and confidence

As a child, he was told he would never swim. But in 2014, he started lessons in Southampton Diving’s disability programme. Over the last 12 months he has seen significant changes to his weight and strength, and even performed a head-first forward line-up off the 5m board.

The final Achievement Award – Senior Participant went to Liz Woolner of Flitwick Dolphins.

Liz is a Masters champion and British record holder who competes at competitions throughout the year. She is always setting new personal best times and bringing home an impressive array of medals.

Goodwin wins Teacher of the Year

Judith Goodwin accepted the Teacher of the Year Award for her exceptional approach to swimming lessons. Judith regularly has themed swimming lessons which coincide with events throughout the year, such as the Tour De France, Halloween, Easter and Children in Need.

Her lessons are always full and her teaching is in very high demand all year round.

Judith said: “I’ve always enjoyed swimming from a very young age, had great experiences when I learned to swim and I always loved it.

“The enjoyment it gives to the children and their smiling faces, that’s my favourite thing about teaching swimming.”

Two volunteers recognised with national honours

Aquatics volunteers Amber Francis and Karen Bowen won awards for their dedication and commitment to the sport.

Amber, of Tavistock Swimming Club, won Young Volunteer of the Year for her ability to lead by example. She makes useful contributions at committee meetings on behalf of the swimmers and regularly assists the Head Coach on poolside.

Amber said: “I started volunteering an hour or so on a Sunday to help out with the little ones. Gradually I started doing longer hours and then I started doing more days.

“I’ve been through the Young Volunteer Programme, passed my Level 1 Teaching Assistant and I’ve just started my Level 2. I love watching how quickly the children develop and they’re always smiling.”

Karen won Volunteer of the Year for being the indispensable link between Team Bath and 10 other local network clubs. Over the last 12 months she diligently attended monthly committee meetings and quarterly Network club committee meetings and has secured vital funding for her club.

She frequently provides facts and statistics to the sponsorship team to help them when pitching for partners.

Karen said: “I’ve been volunteering at Team Bath for about three years. I started off as a Swim21 Coordinator when someone mentioned they needed some help. Now I regularly do things every day.

“I always try to help out young volunteers. It’s all about recognising and rewarding volunteers so they want to keep helping out.”

  • Click here to find out more about the Swim England National Awards and see all of the 2017 categories.