It’s another grey morning as I write here in Cranleigh and, as earlier in the year, we are back in lockdown. As before, pools and leisure centres are shut. For Cranleigh Swimming Club and our swimmers, this means no pool-based training. Yet, this time around, it feels different.
In some ways this lockdown is better, in others, it’s worse. Let’s get the negative out of the way first. For many, it’s a more miserable time of the year. Days are short and the weather is dreary. Finding other forms of exercise for our super-athletic swimmers is more challenging. On top of that, somehow, the virus seems a little closer to home this time around. It might be the increased testing but we are all aware of cases in our own community. It was a sobering reminder that we are still in the middle of the crisis.
What matters, of course, is how we respond in the face of adversity. This is something we teach our swimmers who have lots of ups and downs in their swimming development.
And we can start by drawing some of the positives. This lockdown isn’t as severe. Much more of everyday life is managing to carry on. For our swimmers, the majority of whom are school age, they are continuing to go to school. This is so important for their education and social wellbeing. It also frees up parents to focus on working and generally keeping things running.
Additionally, having done this once already, for many it is slightly less frightening. There is less uncertainty. Lockdown is scheduled to be much shorter. I hope that by the time you are reading this article, restrictions will already have loosened. Add in the recent positive vaccine news and things are looking brighter.
Specifically, for our club, we have been much better prepared. For our older squads, we have also been able to launch Zoom-based Virtual Land Training. It might not be enough to fully maintain their high levels of fitness, but it is a good start. It also helps keep that sense of community that is a key feature of our swimming squads.
Given that we had more notice that lockdown was coming, we were also able to go out on a high. For the first time since March, our swimmers managed to get some form of competition. This was a very important step because it provides great motivation. The dedication required to train so hard is very hard to maintain without an external driver. Competition and measuring progress help to provide that.
So, for the last two Sundays before lockdown, the club ran Level X time trials. This was a covid-safe initiative by Swim England, which was much stripped-down from our normal Open Meets or galas. There were no visiting clubs, no spectators, and no timing boards. What remained was a schedule of races, for our own club swimmers, in their normal training time. But with a small handful of our own club officials to judge the races, it was official.
The results were fantastic. Despite having had more than 5 months away from the pool, the vast majority of our swimmers set new personal bests. This is some testament to their commitment. And it was particularly encouraging for our younger swimmers. For many of these swimmers, this was their first taste of competition. They should be very proud of their efforts.
Although most of our swimmers went out buzzing, we should also remember the small number of absent swimmers. Either because of illness or self-isolation, they were not able to join us for these events. They have shown the same dedication in training but did not get the same reward. This does not seem fair and they were missed. Their opportunities will come.
We now look ahead to when we are allowed to return to the pools. We are confident that our swimmers will be able to return to the water safely, with tried and tested protocols. This is in no small part due to the generous amount of time given up by our committee, coaches and parents. This effort has been a true demonstration of a great club and community.
In the meantime, we wish you well and hope you have an enjoyable, albeit different, festive period.