A taste to race!

That is exactly what two young swimmers from Swim ‘n’ Go, Branston, Swim School got when they were invited to compete in the Lincoln Vulcans Squad Sprints competition on Saturday 21st April.

taste1From left to right : Ben Strathon, Jennifer Horn, Max Copeland and Lincoln Vulcans’ Chairman, Dave Hendel

Max Copeland and Jennifer Horn were both participating in the “Taste to Race” Scheme, which is the brain-child of Ben Strathon who teaches swimming at Swim ‘n’ Go, Branston, as well as coaching with the Lincoln Vulcans.

“Historically, there has been resistance between Swim Schools and competitive Clubs, who are often competing against each other for the same swimmers,” Ben says. “The Taste to Race Scheme attempts to avoid this difficulty by allowing the swimmers to compete in the Sprints without leaving their Swim Schools. The hope is that once the swimmers have achieved the aims of their Swim Schools, and learned to swim, they will want to continue with their swimming and go on to compete.”

“It was a real ‘eye-opener’ for the parents involved as well. Some of them had seen former Vulcans swimmers such as Lizzie Simmonds and Kate Haywood at the Olympics and on TV, but had never even considered whether their child could be involved in competitive swimming.”

“Lincolnshire has a strong tradition of producing Olympic swimmers over the years, with four ex-Vulcans already qualified for this year’s Olympics (Lizzie Simmonds, Kate Haywood, Sophie Allen and Rob Welbourn). Being involved with Swim Schools, you see many swimmers who could potentially be very good and as a Teacher you want them to achieve their full potential. The difficulty has always been persuading Swim Schools to take the risk of promoting a competitive club, with the possibility that the swimmers then leave to join the club before they have reached the limits of what the Swim School can offer.”

The Taste to Race Scheme involves two phases surrounding the Squad Sprints competition, which is held twice a year. Phase 1 : a visit to soak up the atmosphere and experience the excitement of a Gala; and Phase 2 : to actually race and compete.

Swim ‘n’ Go sent six swimmers to the first phase (last November), but only two, Max and Jennifer, were available to compete in the second phase this time round. It is hoped that the others will complete phase 2 at the next Lincoln Vulcans Sprints Gala in November, together with more swimmers taking part in phase 1.

Max and Jennifer both stepped up to the task exceptionally well in their first ever competition. They put their nerves aside and gave everything they had in their races, achieving their very first PB’s (personal best times). Max - back : 26.68; breast : 32.83 and free : 29.72; and Jennifer - back : 24.58; breast : 37.76 and free : 21.08. “I was very proud of the way they performed and held their technique,” said Ben, “there were a few nerves to start off with, particularly as they do not usually swim in a 25m pool and it can be very daunting looking down that extra 5 or so metres when you are not used to it.”

“Without the support of Becky [Proprietor of Swim ‘n’ Go, Branston] and the Vulcans, this scheme would not have got off the ground and Max and Jennifer would not have had the opportunity to see what is available for them to do in the future. Becky, in particular, has shown great faith in the Scheme by allowing her swimmers to participate. She is conscious of doing the best for her swimmers. Becky knows that it is important for each swimmer to be aware of their options after Swim School so that they can go on to achieve their full potential, whether this is simply learning the basic skills of swimming, playing water polo, synchronised swimming, lifesaving or competitive swimming at local, regional, national or even international levels. The Taste for Race Scheme provides a no-strings attached opportunity for swimmers to see if they enjoy competitive swimming.”

It is hoped that through this Scheme more swimmers and parents' eyes can be opened to the possibilities beyond the Swim School pool and potentially on to the competitive, or even Olympic, pool!

Taste to Race was initially piloted with Swim ‘n’ Go, Branston, but is shortly to be offered to other Swim Schools in Lincolnshire. If you are interested in becoming involved in the Scheme or would like more information about Taste to Race, please contact Caroline on 0790 614 2283 or email : carolinestrathon@sky.com.

Becky Carr, Proprietor of Swim 'n' Go

For more information about Swim ‘n’ Go, Branston, contact Becky Carr on 01522 879714
For more information about Lincoln Vulcans, contact Cheryl Hendel on 01522 822737