Swimming club hopes success in Olympics will inspire others to take the plunge
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
CLEVER planning has seen Teesdale Tiger Sharks Swimming Club (TTS) grow its numbers despite not being able to meet for months because of successive Covid-19 lockdowns.
The club was able to quickly regroup when Teesdale Leisure Centre re-opened its doors in April, and its numbers grew from 19 swimmers before lockdown to its current strength of 30.
Club chairman Wico van Mourik said reaching out to past members and improving training had led to the boost.
He added: “It was heartening to see a queue of swimmers outside the Teesdale Leisure Centre in those first weeks of April, all keen to get back in the pool. Little surprise, after months of online learning for school and walking and cycling as one of the few exercise outlets for young people.”
Dr Van Mourik praised officers at the leisure centre for the way they had collaborated with the club to ensure a safe re-opening after the lockdown.
He added: “Thankfully swimmers and their parents and carers were happy to work within the guidance, which meant also going home in a wet swimming costume. The TTS coach, Aaron North, who also works at the leisure centre, was a valuable link between the club and the pool.”
A third factor in the success was a close link between the club and its counterpart Richmond Dales ASC, the chairman said.
He added: “By drawing upon the experience of their coach Keith Hall and assistant coach Zoe Cowans, even when no swimming was on, Aaron was supported by them in developing more focussed sessions.”
The two coaches now also help with training TTS swimmers on Sundays and Thursdays.
Recently qualified coach Holly Robinson, who has been a member of the club since it was started, added: “They have been so helpful. I was not the most confident person and Keith got me out of my shell. It is nice to see them improve so much.”
Dr Van Mourik added: “The skill level and endurance of all swimmers has visibly improved in a short time, and with that the swimmers’ enjoyment and commitment.”
The club is now hoping to recruit a head coach who can further develop the swimmers by making more improvements to training content, performance and competitiveness.
The club is also hoping that Team GB’s success in the Olympic pool will prompt more people to join the club.
Miss Robinson said: “It is something we talk about a lot and hopefully it will inspire people.”