The success of Wales in disability swimming is coming from the grassroots opportunities being offered by clubs like Cardiff Masters Swimming Club says the sport’s governing body.
As disability swimming continues to grow I popularity in Wales, with 30 new clubs being identified in the past six months, more disabled swimmers are looking for swimming clubs that can offer them the level of competitive training they require to compete at a higher level.
Over the last few years, Swim Wales have seen an increase in the number of disabled swimmers joining inclusive non-disabled clubs, which has resulted in more disabled swimmers making the Swim Wales national and regional performance squads.
And Swim Wales says one stand out club has been Cardiff Masters Swimming Club.
The club, based at the Cardiff International Pool, has 86 members all of whom are upwards of 18 years-old, with many representing the club at National Masters Championships in Wales and the UK.
“With the majority of swimming clubs catering for young people, it can be difficult find the right environment for an adult swimmer to develop their swimming skills if they haven’t been involved in the sport previously at a higher level,” says Huw Griffiths, Swim Wales Disability Manager.
“Cardiff Masters has helped to alleviate this gap. Over the past 12 months I have been contacted by a numerous adult swimmers with various disabilities, asking if there is somewhere they can train, build fitness, improve skills and potentially move on to compete in events inside and outside of Wales.
“Of those swimmers who live within the South East region, I am always happy to direct them to Cardiff Masters. Each time I have spoken to their lead coach, Terry John, asking if they can go to Cardiff International Pool for one of their sessions the response is the same, ‘of course, get them down here and in the water’.
“No matter their age, swimming ability or level of disability, each swimmer has been welcomed and had equal treatment. Some of the training programmes have required small adaptations, but this has been performed with relative ease.”
Sophie Woodham, aged 26 from Barry is a swimmer with Spina Bifida. She said; “I was really nervous going to my first session with the Masters, I wasn’t too sure what to expect and how I would fit in. But the coaches and the other swimmers were great. I found them all to be really helpful and friendly and felt at total ease with them all as soon as I got in the water. I’m looking forward to improving with the club and hopefully become a competitive swimmer.”
Huw Griffiths added; “Cardiff Masters is a great example of how easy integrating a swimmer with a disability is. For us to continue producing disability swimmers we need to make sure that examples such as this are followed across all clubs. The way Cardiff Masters have operated their open door policy to disability swimmers has been fantastic and I would like to commend them on that. Swimmers like David Roberts, Nyree Kindred, Morgyn Peters and Rhiannon Henry, developed into Paralympic swimmers because they were fully integrated into mainstream competitive swimming clubs and that is how we will develop the future stars.”
If you have a disability and you want to join a swimming club then please contact Huw Griffiths on 01792 513619 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow Swim Wales Disability on twitter @SWDisability