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Tewkesbury Swimming Club making a big splash

Gloucestershire North > Sport > Swimming

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Friday, 30th June 2017, 10:00

Some of the Tewkesbury swimmers in the Gloucestershire county qualifiers squad for 2017 Some of the Tewkesbury swimmers in the Gloucestershire county qualifiers squad for 2017

Tewkesbury Swimming Club is remarkably buoyant for a club that was floundering and in danger of sinking without a trace just three years ago.

“Yes, the club was close to folding,” says chairwoman Ellen Heeley. “All the committee had resigned, the head coach left and most of the other coaches left as well.”

Ellen, who had previously been the membership secretary, stepped up to the chairman’s role and, working alongside a very hard-working committee, they have managed to turn the club around.

So much so that the club now have about 100 members – their highest for five or six years. “It’s a very healthy membership,” said Ellen, whose 13-year-old daughter Eve is a swimmer at the club.

It’s been a lot of hard work and Ellen is keen to stress that it has been a massive team effort.

“There are so many good people at the club who put in such a lot of hard work,” she said.

“Some of the people have been helping at the club for such a long time, starting when their children got involved but staying on when their children have left.”

Two of those people are Allan and Vicki Clift. Allan is the club’s president while his wife looks after the club’s junior squad.

“They’re amazing” said, Ellen. “They’re grandparents but they still do so much.”

Other big supporters include Elaine Pallas, who is the competitions secretary, and Fran and Steve Pocock, who have been involved with the club for the best part of 20 years.

There are also “11 or 12 wonderful volunteer coaches” who look after the children.

“The children always come first,” said Ellen. “We don’t have a head coach at the moment, although we will have one by the end of the year. We’ve got a director of swimming – Andy Osborne. He’s head of coaching at Gloucester and is a mentor coach for us.

“Being head coach is a very challenging job. It’s not a very well paid position and they are unsociable hours.

“All the volunteer coaches are qualified teachers or coaches and they’ve all been on safeguarding courses.”

Ellen is also delighted to report that the club have a very good relationship with Tewkesbury Leisure Centre where they have been located since last May after many years at Cascades.

“We work very closely with the general manager Matt Cotton,” said Ellen. “He used to be the manager at Cascades. Not all clubs have a good relationship with their pool operator but we do.”

Unlike many swimming clubs, Tewkesbury Swimming Club remains open all year round.

The competitive season runs from September to July but Ellen said, “Some swimmers want to continue training once a week in the summer so we’re open three hours a week.”

It’s a policy that is certainly starting to pay dividends as the club had three swimmers at the South West youth regionals and two at the under-14 South West regionals, one of whom was Eve Heeley.

They also had 21 swimmers at the county championships although the aim is to get that total up to 60.

That represents an almost three-fold increase but with Ellen and the club’s hard-working team making waves, you wouldn’t back against them achieving their goal.

Other Images

The 9-10-year-old girls’ freestyle/IM relay team
Junior coach Vicki Clift
Junior coach Shevaun Pocock
Tewkesbury Swimming Club swim academy leader Karen
Intermediate and performance squad coach Darrell Barnes
Intermediate and performance squad coach Christian Heeley
Development squad coach Saskia Davidson

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