October 05, 2020

Against all odds the Laois Marlins returned to the water on the 22nd of September 2020. It was not an easy journey!

Our regular training centre, the Portlaoise Leisure Centre, went into liquidation in July. Being left with no pool, and in the middle of a pandemic, it was clear that the club would need to dig deep to ensure its survival.

Thankfully, the club was in a good financial position, with a dedicated committee and coaching team, so the summer was spent looking at alternative training locations.

Having members from a wide geographic area, it was important to find a solution that would suit the largest number, as without our swimmers we would not have a club! The swimming world offered fantastic support, which was really appreciated.

We have to offer especially huge thanks to the Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise and Portarlington Leisure Centre - both fantastic facilities that have been a pleasure to deal with. They already had robust COVID-19 plans in place, so it was clear that with some minor amendments to cater for group swimming, these would become the club’s temporary new home.

Whilst we cannot thank them enough for that support, the biggest thanks must go to our swimmers and their families for the ongoing support and commitment to the club, and the sport. They have taken to training across two centres, 18km apart, in their stride. They have been fantastically understanding about the need to cap lane numbers, and are training hard.

All our squads are now back in the water, with a good level of swim time per squad, and we’re delighted to say that 90% of our members returned. We have also dipped our toe into Masters Swimming, and hopefully can continue to grow the club over the coming years.

Laois Marlins are hopeful of returning to Portlaoise Leisure Centre in the new year, but for now we’re being well looked after, and our swimmers are happy!

If your club wants to share their Return to Water story, please email clubsandcommunity@swimireland.ie

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