Tell us about your club and your club’s vision?
Torfaen Dolphins Performance Centre is a competitive swimming club which has around 190 members across its Academy, four development squads, Performance Development squad, Performance squads and our Triathlon members. The club caters for children and young adults with a wide range of swimming abilities; taking children as they graduate from TLT's swimming lesson pathway, through to those swimmers in the Performance squads who are in the Welsh and British squads. We have a strong team of volunteers who run the club, ranging from coaches, to committee members, officials and parent helpers.
TD is committed to being wholly inclusive and as well as able bodied swimmers, also caters for swimmers with disabilities or impairments, both within the main squad structure and Gwent Spartans. These swimmers have individual disabilities and receive tuition and guidance in training sessions specifically tailored to their needs. All swimmers share in the success of both able-bodied and para-swimmers, with a supportive atmosphere across swimmers, coaches, volunteers and parents.
The Club strives to promote and provide opportunities for the amateur sport of swimming in the Torfaen area and provides a structured development to performance pathway and a competitive platform for all swimmers in the local area.
The Club believes that the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility and that all children and young people have a right to have fun, be safe and protected from harm whilst pursuing their goals. These values and our passion for swimming were rewarded in 2019 when Swim Wales awarded us ‘Welsh Swimming Club of the Year.’
How has training developed since lockdown?
The Corona virus outbreak has had a huge impact on our club, its members and coaching team. When the necessary restrictions came in to force and we lost the use of our pools, it quickly became apparent that we had a responsibility to our swimmers to ensure they were provided with support during this incredibly difficult time. Paul McRae, Chair of Torfaen Dolphins reflecting on the last few months said, “It was incredibly hard for our swimmers, who normally spend so many hours together every week, to suddenly have no interaction with each other at all.” We therefore provided them with land-based training that they could do at home; but as important as this was, it alone wasn't enough. We also wanted to maintain the important relationship between the swimmers and the coaches. Our aptly named ‘Flippin’ Fitness’ training programme was born!
Our fantastic ‘Strength and Conditioning’ coach, Ray Morgan quickly set up a programme of training that could be delivered via the educational app Edmodo and live Zoom sessions. We wanted to deliver something swim specific, maintain a level of social interaction and to ‘live’ coach them. For the younger swimmers, the sessions needed to be fun with a focus on physical literacy (movement competencies, etc.) whereas for the older, more experienced ones the focus became more performance based (strength, speed, etc). Regardless of the goal of the session, athlete safety was key and ensuring that they weren’t doing anything that could cause injury was vital. Delivering 'live sessions' allowed the participants to see and hear their coach so that demonstrations, coaching and feedback could be delivered in real time. The content of each session is squad specific and includes HIIT, Core strength, Flexibility and Mobility, Full body strength Training or sometimes a combination of all.
The ‘Flippin Fitness’ programme is helping us achieve our objectives of keeping the swimmers fit and engaged during this difficult time and supporting them in every way we can, with over 160 sessions held to date.
As a club, what are you most looking forward to when pools open?
When the pools reopen and we are able to get back in the water, we are most looking forward to coming back together again as a club. The lockdown closure has made everyone feel very isolated and separated from their friends and colleagues within the club, including our volunteers and parents. Executive committee member Frances Newton said, “Although social distancing will still be a vital safety consideration, it will be wonderful for the swimmers in each squad to see their coaches, friends and team mates again after such a long period of time. We have had so many comments from parents and swimmers saying exactly this! We are a close swim family and we are looking forward to that first dive into the pool!”
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