Get in the swim

2016 is Olympic Year, and in the run-up to the Games in Rio, Liverpool Express will be regularly  profiling one Olympic Sport and highlighting the opportunities there are to get involved locally.

Whether you want to get back into a sport that you love but haven’t played for some time, learn about different opportunities to get involved even more in something you are doing already, or even take up something completely new then there will be an opportunity for you to do so. This time we look at swimming in the city

“Swimming is a great way to keep fit and is available to all ages to enjoy together and Liverpool City council has a swimming offer available to cater from cradle to grave and from complete non-swimmer to elite athlete,” said Councillor Tim Moore, Mayoral Lead for Organised Sport.

The Liverpool City Council elite swimming training scheme is enjoying considerable success  with  the City of Liverpool Swimming Club  qualifying for this year’s  Arena National Swimming League Premier A Final which is to be held in Cardiff. This is a massive achievement for the club ,who are the only representatives from the North West in the Premier Division A Final, and shows the exceptional effort from all of the Liverpool Swim Team with the continued support from their parents.

Plans for the development of the Liverpool City Council swimming scheme includes expanding the introductory swim skills level by providing more sessions in the north side of the city at Everton Park Sports Centre which allows more ease of access from all geographical areas in Merseyside.

Improved relationships with local clubs has been one of the most important developments in recent times with this relationship allowing  for the swimmers to benefit from the club coaching and the coaching expertise which the council squad provides. This enables children to develop through the long term athlete development plan while also allowing them to continue swimming for their local clubs. Mike Roberts ,chief swimming coach for the Council training scheme,  is delighted to move back to Everton Park as this will allow the programme to develop and expand positively for the future.

Aquatics centre 2

But before future Olympian can start training with the elite squads there are a few skills to pick up first and this is where the Swim Academy Liverpool fits in, providing lessons and activities for all abilities from Turtles (non-swimmers), to seahorse, to catfish, to dolphin and on to Sharks (Skills Specific), then providing information on the options for swimmers to take a number of pathway choices: elite competitive, Rookie Lifeguard, waterpolo or volunteering to help teach.

The programme has 2,200 swimmers signed up, follows the ASA’s (national governing body) Learn to Swim framework and all sessions are led by fully qualified instructors. The Swim Academy is available at the seven Lifestyles centres across Liverpool which have swimming pools – Alsop, Aquatics Centre, Austin Rawlinson, Ellergreen, Everton Park,Garston, Park Road and Peter Lloyd. Activities vary from pool to pool offering sessions such as Adult and Child, pre-school, Adult stroke improvement, and children’s lessons from non-swimmers up to Advanced. Lessons take place all year round and there is now the availability to pay by monthly direct debit to help individuals budget. The city council’s Swim Academy (www.liverpool.gov.uk/swimacademyliverpool)  works closely in partnership and fully supports the work of School Improvement Liverpool in providing school swimming across the city, aiming to enable all pupils to achieve the National curriculum target by the end of key stage 2. This programme is one of the top five in the country with 126 schools taking part and 5000 children swimming each week. The programme boasts a full aquatic competition including galas and water polo competitions. In July 2015 90% of year 6 children in Liverpool left primary school able to swim a minimum of 25 metres. More information at https://www.ednet.co/School-Swimming-Programme

Most recently new links have have been forged with the ASA Para-swimming pathway officer for the north in a project to provide training for the swimming teachers to identify talented disability swimmers, hoping to find the next swimmer to make it to an Olympic podium in 2020 or beyond.

In addition to the adult water based classes timetabled at each Lifestyles club, there is the opportunity for adults to develop their swimming skills to an elite level. Launched in December 2015 in partnership with Liverpool City Council at the Lifestyles Aquatics Centre, Total Masters provides three coached sessions per week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8.30-10pm, specifically aimed at Masters, open water swimmers and Triathletes. Using four lanes in the 50m pool and grouped according to ability, there is lots of flexibility in the training sessions. If you would like to find out more or speak to a member of the training team, just pop along to any of the training sessions and they will be happy to help. https:/liverpool.gov.uk/totalmasters /While swimming is an Olympic sport there are great benefits  in swimming to keep fit. These include burning calories, weight loss,  little or no stress on the joints and  it works all the major muscle groups, thus providing an excellent cardio workout while toning the muscles. The water provides resistance to increase muscle strength and the nature of the movement in the water helps build flexibility in the joints. Supporting 90% of the body weight the water is a perfect environment for rehabilitation due injuries, illness such as arthritis or disabilities.

Remember whether you are interested in swimming for family fun time, to keep fit, or to compete to win, Liverpool City Council’s Lifestyle centres have it all for you. http://liverpool.gov.uk/lifestyles/