Cork swimmers forced to come up with an innovative approach to training

Cork swimmers forced to come up with an innovative approach to training
Michael O'Driscoll, Sunday's Well Swimming Club, keeping his swim training up to date at The Dock Beach, Kinsale. 

SWIMMERS by the very nature of their sport, like to be ‘wet’.

Therefore, the last number of weeks during lockdown, have been very challenging for them.

No access to pools left swimmers with a greater disadvantage than other athletes. Cyclists could train on stationary bikes, runners could still train within the travel restrictions, but swimmers confined to ‘dry’ training could only focus on base-level fitness needs. 

The computer screen became the norm with swimmers quickly familiarising themselves with Zoom. Core workout sessions were provided through the medium, as were weekly mobility sessions with physiotherapists. Nutritional advice was also available. There was a lot of emphasis on staying connected and looking after one’s mental health and well-being.

A Lockdown Swim Training Session - The Intermediate squad from SWSC on a Zoom session with coaches, Kelly Gallagher, Rob Lamb and Frank Lynch. Photo: Courtesy of SWSC Swim
A Lockdown Swim Training Session - The Intermediate squad from SWSC on a Zoom session with coaches, Kelly Gallagher, Rob Lamb and Frank Lynch. Photo: Courtesy of SWSC Swim

Swim Ireland were, and still are, hugely supportive, offering support initiatives to regions and clubs to help them engage with their members. Some of those initiatives included, Online Athlete Clinics where clubs could book sessions with an elite swimmer. 

That swimmer would talk with club swimmers, give an insight into what their day looked like and give advice on what it takes to achieve that standard. Events like the May Challenge were created for all members, no matter what age. The challenge provided 21 days of activities based on an A-Z list of exercises, all of which were demonstrated by 26 Irish Aquatic stars.

Every day an aquatic word was released on social media and members were challenged to identify the letters in the word to the A-Z exercises and complete 20 minutes of activity.

Antonia Sech, Sunday's Well, doing some resistance training and practicing turns in a home pool. 
Antonia Sech, Sunday's Well, doing some resistance training and practicing turns in a home pool. 

Whilst exercise is important to overall health and wellbeing, there are many other aspects to consider. As part of the day’s activity, members were also tasked with completing a mindful activity, Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give and were directed to the Mental Health Ireland website.

Regional and club coaches were busy creating initiatives to keep their swimmers engaged and active and the coaches in turn were supported by the Swim Ireland performance team who arranged webinars with many world-class coaches.

While all other nations were also in lockdown, there was a sense of balance, a level playing ground. However, as other nations began to slowly relax their restrictions, our elite athletes became very anxious and believed they were falling further and further behind. 

There was some relief when the Government announced that performance athletes could return to their training bases from June 8.

Dylan Gunn, Sunday's Well, completing his Dryland Training before his swim at Garryvoe Beach. 
Dylan Gunn, Sunday's Well, completing his Dryland Training before his swim at Garryvoe Beach. 

While our elite athletes can enjoy being back in the pool at the NAC, it is more of the above for regional and club swimmers for the next few weeks.

National Performance Director, Jon Rudd said at the start of this lockdown: “If we use the time well and plan methodically, keeping athletes engaged, focused and motivated, then in a bizarre twist of fate we could actually use it to our advantage.”

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