We meet Chesterfield Swimming Club who are doing
a fantastic job of developing the squad.
It’s a cold and wet Sunday evening but inside it’s warm and wet. I’m at Queen’s Park Sports Centre meeting with Peter Bradshaw whose daughter, Ellie, swims with the Chesterfield Swimming Club. Peter is responsible for social media for the club looking after Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and also picks up the tab for marketing activity.
“I love swimming,” says Peter, “but it’s not convenient for me to swim too much at the moment, I’m hoping to join masters when my lifestyle will allow it.”
It’s 5:30pm and the pool and poolside at Queen’s Park is bustling with activity. The Academy swimmers, the youngest group, are well represented in half of the pool, moving across the lanes the ages increase as does the speed!
The Chesterfield Swimming Club was established in the early 1980s in its present form but existed before this having used Walton Dam and the old open-air swimming pool that used to be on the site now occupied by Chatsworth Business Park.
“it’s about developing the young person and improving at whatever level they perform at, a very individual approach.”
The club cater for all ages, children can start swimming with the ASA School of Splash based at Highfield School on Highfield Land, Newbold up to the age of three. Right now, they have a healthy number, but there’s space for more. The children swim in groups of up to six and the teachers are in the water with the kids. “One of our instructors is Jo Fish” adds Peter, “great name for a swimming coach! These classes are for beginners and early improvers, it gives them confidence in water and the right skills to begin to learn to swim. Groups have a great deal of focus and Jo aims to bring young children on as quickly as possible.”
After Splash, children start local authority lessons, the club used to do this but now they hand children over to the council who teach them through to stage eight which is ability based, children are typically 8 to 10 years old when they reach this level.
Once a child achieves stage eight, they have the option to continue with the local authority until they each stage ten or more typically children come over to the Chesterfield Swimming Club.
Here the focus is on the competitive side of swimming. Coaches start to cover all elements of technique from entering the water, diving, through stroke technique, turns, finishes, training away from the pool, land training to focus on strength and conditioning and also cover nutrition.
“We have experts come in and do talks and presentations, we also have goal setting sessions which focus on a plan for each individual, we cover swimmers’ personal targets and the training they need to achieve it.
“It’s not all about winning though”, adds Peter, “it’s about developing the young person and improving at whatever level they perform at, a very individual approach.”
Recently the club has some celebrated successes. Sophie Baker won gold in the 100m breaststroke at the recent National Championships held at Ponds Forge in Sheffield. Amber Downham came away from the British Championships in Glasgow with two silvers for 100m and 200m freestyle and a bronze in the 200m individual medley.
At the Open Water National, held at Rotherham’s Thrybergh Country Park, Chloe Stennett took silver in the 5k, she is presently one of the top swimmers in the country in her age group at the distances in which she competes.
“The coaches at the club are fantastic”, says Peter, “we have three main coaches, Mark Tanner is head coach and has been with the club for eight years, Max Ward is a reasonably new coach at the club, and used to swim with them and Ian Richards is an ex water polo coach playing his part it taking Sheffield University and England water polo teams to high levels.
“In addition, the club has some dedicated parents who provide support, and we have a number of junior swimmers who are taking coaching qualifications.
“The club helps develop young children, giving them experiences and learning that will be helpful as they progress through life” Peter enthuses.
“I love the way people encourage us to perform and the support we get...'
When I met, the fund-raising community was meeting, a large group and I’m pleased to report that as I write Matt Randall, landlord from The Rose and Crown has just cycled solo from Morecombe, covering the 170 mile coast to coast route. Raising over £500 in much needed funds for the club, where his daughter swims.
Chesterfield Swimming Club meet on Sunday evenings to train plus use the pool at Queen’s Park outside of public times. If you have children who want to get into swimming or you simply want to train and improve, the club would love to hear from you.
So, what’s the best thing about the club I ask Peter? “It’s an extension to the family, a nice escape for children, a club with a great social side but one with expertise at its heart.”
As we chatted Oliver, a young person who swims with the club came over to chat, so I asked him what he loved about the club? “Gala events” he answered. “I love the way people encourage us to perform and the support we get. I’ve been in the club three years now and am moving from county to regional level.”
Proof that the club works.