HAMILTON Olympic Swimming Club members are back in the pool after an agreement was reached with Monivae College to use it’s indoor pool for training sessions.
As coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions continue to ease, the club was forced to either wait until HILAC re-opens or to find an alternative with an offer coming from Monivae College.
The club had its first session back in the pool on June 7 and the club’s head coach, Richard Biggin said it was exciting to get everyone back together.
“Monivae’s kindly let us use the pool, the State Government let us back in the pool as of June 1, but none of the pools anywhere in this district are opening until probably term three, so Monivae was nice enough to let us use its pool,” he said.
“Swimming Australia’s mandate is three swimmers per lane is the maximum we can have, so this is perfect where we can get a group in the pool together and I think it was just mainly Monivae and our committee talking and coming to an agreement, so we are really happy to just get them back in the pool.
“Since lockdown they haven’t had any other sport, so this is the first sort of sport they have got back in.
“Usually I would be hearing complaining when they are doing kick sets but they are really enjoying themselves.
“For some of these kids, it is the first time they have caught up with some of their swimming friends who go to other schools.”
With the first session designed around getting everyone back in the pool and loosening up, the club believes the short-course season will not go ahead.
The break allows Biggin the chance to fine-tune the training methods with the first long-course meet more than three months away.
“Our first session was just to get the kids in the water, they were lining up ‘what do we do? what are we doing?’ and I said to just swim.,” Biggin said.
“The big issue I think they are going to have with competitive swimmers over the next season is kids injuring themselves, getting back into the pool and thinking they can do exactly what they were doing before.
They have been out of the pool for nearly three months now… it is just getting them back into the pool.
“We are going through lots of technique stuff to get them ready for the next long-course season which is summer swimming.
“They can fall into old habits as well, we just want to start pulling apart strokes and rebuilding them, so we have the time to work on things we see that needs correcting.”
Monivae College principal, Jonathan Rowe said it was an easy choice to help the club out during this tough time.
“We are always happy to help out people in our community, particularly sporting clubs when we can,” he said.
“We knew, although we had restrictions, we didn’t have quite the same restrictions as HILAC and we thought it would be a good opportunity to help.”
Many members of the club attending Monivae and classes only recently resuming after COVID-19 prompted remote learning.
The return to the pool was a seamless process with Monivae allowing the club to use the facility for as long as needed.
“Initially the offer was made and the swim club were really pleased to get that offer,” Rowe said.
“All we needed was them to fill out the user agreement paperwork to ensure they were covered by our insurance.
“We are happy to provide the pool to the swim club for as long as they need and until they can get back into HILAC.”
The partnership between the college and club could also prosper into the future with both parties acknowledging the importance of supporting each other.
“It is really important to help each other out, we connect with the community all the time through a range of sports and this is just an another example of that,” Rowe said.
While the college has provided a positive short-term solution to the current COVID-19 situation, Biggin said the club is excited to eventually move back to HILAC, but has not ruled out utilising Monivae’s facility again.
“We need to support our shire, we hire lanes there, we pay HILAC to be there,” he said.
“So us not being there is money the shire isn’t making.
“We definitely want to get back there, but it just depends on what stage that is.
“We have 18 kids in the pool at Monivae, six lanes and three per lane is the maximum but at the moment I can only hire three lanes at HILAC, so the maximum I can get is nine swimmers.
“Things are improving weekly, so it could be that we can have five or six swimmers per lane by next term.
“We definitely will remain here until term three starts, then it comes down to the committee and working out what they want to do going forward.”
Biggin said if the club continues to grow, then combining sessions at HILAC and Monivae is a possibility.
“Things like this could lead to other arrangements, no doubt,” he said.
“At some stage, depending on how big the club gets, it could be we have sessions here, sessions at HILAC, or we could have a high-performance group here.
“Monivae didn’t have to, but they’ve looked at the swimmers, they have a marvelous facility here is unreal and to let us use it is just brilliant.
“We are getting kids back into the pool earlier than a lot of other clubs because of the opportunity to use the facility.
“I am just happy to be at the pool where ever it is and having kids here smiling and having a good time.”