As the days shorten, the temperature drops and we continue the inevitable cycle through the seasons, I sometimes like to think back to this time last year. What a very different world it was and how little we knew about what was coming next.
For Cranleigh Swimming Club, autumn is normally a very busy time. Full of galas, with swimmers testing their progress and chasing qualifying times for County and Regional Championships. The middle weekend in October (when I am writing this) is normally the Club’s last Open Meet of the year. A chance to welcome visiting clubs to the Leisure Centre to compete. Often the first opportunity for some of our younger swimmers to race against swimmers from other clubs. And, importantly, a vital revenue generator for the continued success of our club.
Except, this year, things are different. With swimming competitions, come crowds. Even if you limit spectators, there would be lots of swimmers. Indoors, sharing limited space, waiting for their events. Add to that the large number of officials and volunteers that make things run smoothly and this is not a sensible thing to be doing at this time.
So competitions are off. Swim England are doing their best to adapt. They have begun piloting virtual competitions during normal club training times, to offer some competitive element. We hope that we might be able to be involved in something of this nature in the not too distant future. In the meantime, we remain grateful that our swimmers can continue to train. To keep fit. To swim. Something that for many of them is an important part of their identity.
And while there isn’t a huge amount to write about for the magazine, as we look back, we might reflect on what we might have done differently in our lives, had we known what was coming. Not because we can change the past, but because it reminds us that life is precious and uncertain, and we often take things for granted.
Covid-19 has brought many changes. Some have been more affected than others. Some of us may have been devastated by the loss of loved ones or friends. Many have had their work severely disrupted or taken away. All of us have been touched to some extent. Limitations on seeing our friends and family. Disruption of plans or holidays.
The measures that have been imposed to stem the virus would have been almost unthinkable pre-Covid, 12 months ago. Although our options have been limited, I find it amazing how adaptable and resilient we have been. Cranleigh has been a true community. Nearly everyone has tried to be sensible and kind. Even when people don’t wholly agree, from what I have seen, we have acted considerately and in a way that takes account of other people living different lives to our own.
One consequence of the restrictions is a sudden abundance of time. For those of us lucky to live with friends or families, this is often a gift. We can be more present. We are able to spend more time with those closest to us. Changing routines have allowed us to eat together more than before. More time to play. While it will take some time to understand the impact of this crisis on our mental health and wellbeing, hopefully, for our children, they will be able to draw on these positives. But we should also remember that this isn’t everyone. For those who are alone, increased time can mean increased loneliness. We must be sensitive to that, strive to help where we can and always be kind.
At Cranleigh Swimming Club, we gain so much from being part of the wider Cranleigh village community. We are always grateful for the support that the club receives. We don’t know when, but before too long, the severe restrictions of these Covid-19 days will be a memory, not continued existence. In the meantime, we wish you all well and good health.