August 05, 2020

On Tuesday 4th August, after 138 days we have at last got back into the water! It was like Christmas for our performance squads. It was amusing to see that 90% of parents had registered their kids as ‘safe to swim’, 1 1/2 hours before the session was due to start. Which begs the question: who was more excited, the parents or the kids?!

Thank you to our committee and coaches for all the hard work they have put in to ensure the safe return of our athletes to the pool.

At the beginning there was the thought that it will be short term. Then the realisation kicked in that this could go on for months, which it has ended up being.

The committee continued their meetings virtually and the focus at that point centred around the engagement of swimmers and coaches. WhatsApp groups were set up for ease of communication with each group, Zoom strength & conditioning, Zoom squad and parents meetings commenced, our coaching team started to avail of the abundance of online training offered by Swim Ireland to build up their CPD and weekly challenges were set by the committee e.g. ‘No Pool, No Problem’.

When it became obvious that the first type of swimming to return would be open water, the Lurgan Masters Swimming Club offered to help us get our swimmers back into water and arranged a weekly Open Water Session in the nearby Lough. This has been a positive side of lockdown, with many of our swimmers gaining a passion for Open Water and starting to go to Let’s Go Hydro weekly.

From then on, the committee focus has been how to get the swimmers back to pool swimming safely. This has definitely been the single busiest time for our committee, almost like having another job: liaising with the council around pool space and associate costs, completing a risk assessment, Covid-19 training for committees, coaches and subsequently parents, working out numbers per session based on protocols and communicating with parents and kids about the protocols when they start back training.

So that brings me back to the start, day 139 and we are back to the pool. What is different? The swimmers sanitised their hands as they came in ‘beach ready’, there are less in each lane, they are starting from different points around the pool and they will go home still in their swimming costumes.

What is the same? Their smiles when they came in and their amazing attitude and resilience to do the best that they can no matter what!!

If your club wants to share their Return to Water story, please email Aisling via