Kentish Express Ashford & District

Benefits of swift swim return

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A swimming coach from Kent has indicated his hope that kids will be allowed back in the pool as soon as possible, in order to avoid suffering any long-term effects from the pandemic.

Sport England published their ten-year ‘Uniting the Movement’ strategy last week, which seeks to get the nation moving again.

But Paddy Ham, who is lead coach at Sevenoaks Swimming Club, is more worried about the immediate future.

“Young athletes across the country have been through enough the last year - for a boost both for physical and mental well-being, I cannot stress enough how important it is to get sport back across the board,” said Ham, who was nominated as Young Coach of the Year at the UK Coaching awards last year.

“The athletes get to see their friends, and they get to do the sports they love rather than an online substitute or just going for a run. This set-up just doesn’t have the same impact.

“I like to think that my coaching style has helped guide my squad through this unpreceden­ted time (I’m sure there are people that will disagree!), but lockdowns have hit confidence and morale for both myself and the swimmers at times.

“As a squad and as a club, we have made sure everyone is aware of mental health, too, and we have done fundraisin­g for the Charlie Waller Trust charity which is focused on mental health awareness.

“The main thing I have noticed is the number of swimmers in the squad that are far more mentally resilient than before.

Some swimmers have struggled at various points, but some have really shone and come out of themselves. Now we just can’t wait to get back in the pool.”

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