THE first ever session of the the new Western Shores Swim Squad took place on Saturday 5 January 2013.
The squad, which comprises of athletes from the 3 swimming clubs - Cookstown, Dungannon and Mid-Ulster - have joined forces to run a monthly squad session which will enhance each club’s training programme.
Local swimming talent continually struggle to avail of sufficient pool time and high calibre training within their local clubs commonly having to resort to training with other clubs in the Belfast area.
The Western Shores Swim Squad draws on the expertise of all three local swimming clubs to offer high level training for local swimming talent and help provide a pathway to unlock their long term athletic development. The squad was set up by Ruth McQuillan Swim Ulster Development Officer and local Active Communities Swimming Coach Ivan McKeown.
Ruth commented: “It was great to see so many coaches working as a team, learning from each other and developing a team spirit.”
Integral to this new programme is Cookstown District Council Active Communities Swimming Coach Ivan McKeown, who has led this initiative locally and is part of a team of coaches that train the swimmers.
Ivan is employed through the Active Communities Programme which is a Sport Northern Ireland Lottery Funded initiative that aims to increase participation in sport and physical recreation in communities throughout Northern Ireland.
The squad of 18 swimmers, 6 from each club, will train together monthly with the emphasis on improving technique, race skills and aerobic capacity.
Amongst the squad there are members of Swim Ulster training squad, Swim Ulster Academy Squad, Ulster Schools record holders, Grammar Schools Medallists, a member of the Paralympics Swim Ireland Development Squad and others who have medalled at various Open Galas throughout Northern Ireland.
Coaching, nutrition, hydration, sports psychology and dry land training will be provided by utilising expertise from all 3 clubs and Swim Ulster. By implementing the latest coaching techniques swimmers, coaches and the local clubs will all benefit.
The members of the squad collectively choose the name as each club borders the western shore of Lough Neagh. Having secured sponsorship for T shirts from Alexander, Bain and Murray opticians the swimmers selected the squad colours so giving a distinct identity for all involved. The squad will strive to raise the calibre of local swimming and help our local swimmers to compete at National and International Level.
The next training session will take place on Saturday 2 February 2013.