Squad hits new heights at Deben trials

TEAM Ipswich Disability Swimming Squad reached new heights last weekend when five of its swimmers posted new personal best times at the Deben Time Trials.

TEAM Ipswich Disability Swimming Squad reached new heights last weekend when five of its swimmers posted new personal best times at the Deben Time Trials.

Daniel Hasnip (17), Evie Edwards (12), Matthew Stone (12), Oliver Hedgley (10) and Charley-Anne Woodward (14) all improved on previous times, while Robert Meekings (13) made his competitive debut and Hasnip, Jacob Edwards (9) and David Turner (8) all entered new events for the first time.

Coach Elizabeth Christian said: “All in all it was a very good evening with excellent team support between each other and a clear illustration of the progress being made throughout the whole squad as regards stroke technique, independence, safety skills, confidence and team spirit.”

These recent times build upon the success of six of the squad's swimmers who achieved qualifying times earlier last month for the Disability Sport Events in the National Junior Swimming Championships 2007 to be held in Sheffield.

Initially established in June 2005 as a pilot project, the Disability Squad is a partnership between Team Ipswich, Ipswich Disability Sport Forum and Team Ipswich Swimming Club.

A National Lottery Awards for All grant then enabled the club to establish itself on a more formal basis and membership has since exploded as Christian explains: “We started with just six swimmers and a handful of coaches and helpers and it has kind of just grown and grown from there.

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“From non-swimmers through to those who are competing, everyone has made phenomenal progress. We now have 25 swimmers and many more teachers.

“The squad aims to provide the opportunity for disabled people to participate fully in the world of swimming - to receive tuition and reach a level that allows them to access competition, alongside of course encouraging and supporting the social side of swimming. We hope we provide the total package really.

“The difference you can make to their lives is huge. You can see their confidence grow as they are given the opportunity to be with other young people like them.”

Christian began as a coach for able-bodied swimmers at Stowmarket, but after successfully incorporating a disabled swimmer into her lessons at a parents request, she passed her ASA disability coaching badge and started up a disability session at Deben which moved to Ipswich nearly two years ago.

Christian said: “With the disabled swimmers I enjoy the challenge of breaking things down. I like thinking of ingenious new ways of getting over a problem with them. If I can do that than both them and myself have achieved something.”

Looking ahead, Christian said: “Goodness knows how big we can get. I take enquiries every few weeks for people to join so I guess we can grow as much as the number of helpers I have allows me. I am always looking for more helpers and the more of them I can get the more swimmers we can have.”

If you are interested in joining Team Ipswich Disability Swimming Squad, either as a swimmer or a helper, then you can contact Elizabeth Christian on: 01473 890767 or at mail@christian-family.freeserve.co.uk.