Dolphins make a splash as they return to training at Louth pool

After 128 days of lockdown, Louth Dolphins Swimming Club returned to ‘training’ in their home venue – The Meridian Leisure Centre.

Thumbs up for a return to the pool

“Where to start on what has been an epic journey?” says club chairman Bob Wells.

Since the Covid-19 enforced lockdown restrictions, the club has constantly maintained contact with its members, offering support and encouraging fitness activities and heathy eating.

There have also been quizzes, and word searches, as well as walks, runs and cycling, making many families more aware of what beautiful countryside is around them.

The pool.

Many of the club’s volunteer teachers and coaches have taken the opportunity to do online courses, including safeguarding, mental health, team manager and other CPDs (Continued Professional Development courses).

A sponsored run-walk-bike raised an incredible £ 1,483 for a local NHS charity.

A small group of the executive committee, plus the head coach and an appointed Covid-19 lead officer have, over the weeks, spent many hours in virtual meetings with Swim England and the Magna Vitae team.

So, with all risk assessments done and safety measures put in place, the decision was made to get back in the pool.

Head coach Kate Thompson said: “We are extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to return to the pool, with so many other clubs sadly not having the same support.

“Swimming is a key element for many children and being able to return has given so many the routine and a glimpse of normality that they desperately need; the constant smiles say it all.

“The return is extremely structured and disciplined, in line with government and Swim England guidelines, but all have adapted very well, just happy to be back in the water.

“Huge thanks to our team of volunteers and Magna Vitae, who have made all of this possible.”

Swimmers arrive ‘beach ready’

Use of the pool and training is not as before, the mantra being Safety – Consistency – Robustness – Evolving and with the focus being on a return to swimming, not competition.

A successful club forms part of a successful leisure centre.

With much consultation and discussion, a plan evolved, entry to the pool hall via the side fire doors, two-metre distance rules enforced on entry, on poolside and in the double width lanes. Swimmers arrive ‘beach ready’ and leave ‘wet’ via the rear doors to be met by parents in the rear car park.

The senior Performance Squad was first back in the water on the Monday spread out over two lots of one-hour sessions (factoring in a 15-minute clean down).

Lessons were learned and the Development Squad was next in on the Tuesday evening.

By Thursday and Friday these two squads were running like clockwork.

Sunday, August 2, was the culmination, with Skills Squad returning and all the squads back over a six-hour period.

Every session the team analyses and adapts, this is made all the more worthwhile by seeing the young members’ smiling faces and parents’ gratitude.

It speaks volumes that the club has not lost one member, volunteer or committee members – all returning with a renewed focus and drive.

Bob Wells concluded: “We are extremely fortunate that we in Louth and District have a facilities management team in Magna Vitae that care and have been approachable throughout.

“This is the reason why we are the first swimming club in the county, region ... if not the whole country to return to training.

“My personal thanks go to Naomi Wilkinson-Baker, operations manager, and her team for their help and support.

“Another important factor to be remembered is that everyone involved with the club is a volunteer doing it for the love of the sport.”

• The Meridian Centre’s main pool is open to the general public too; the leisure pool (baby pool) and slide are still closed.

If you are not a member, call 01507 607650, between 8am-10am and 4pm-7pm Monday-Friday, 8am-10am Saturday, 4pm-7pm Sunday, to book a swimming session.