01 Feb 21

The extended lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic caused havoc for many organisations, but Deepings Swimming Club summoned all its resources to keep its swimmers engaged, fit and healthy while their local leisure centre remained closed.

The club paused its training in March 2020 after Deepings Leisure Centre closed and only returned to its home pool in September. But that didn’t stop head coach Lynn Chapman from keeping members engaged with the club through a series of fitness competitions and fun activities.

It all started with a simple mission: how far can you run in a week. The rules allowed four runs in seven days and the swimmers were put into juniors, youth and masters leagues. The competition ran over four weeks in May.

Swimmers were galvanised into action, dusting off their running shoes to display some outstanding abilities on road and across country. A steady build-up of weekly mileage over the month resulted in some impressive distances in the final few days, with Hannah Matthews topping the youth leaderboard, Ella Gerrard taking the juniors honours and Rodney Marks heading the masters. Thirty-nine swimmers took part in the competition.

In June, coach Chapman set two new challenges: how far can you cycle in a month and how fast can you run 1km.

The cycling challenge proved very popular with swimmers and parents alike, with 28 participants. An additional gauntlet was laid down by swim parent and committed cyclist Andy Roffe to see if anyone could exceed his total over the four weeks.

It was close: Roffe completed 1,198km, narrowly holding off youth winner Holly Leggott’s impressive 1,151km. Ella Gerrard took her second win in the juniors cycling table.

The 1km sprint challenge was watched with mounting interest by club chairman and keen runner Andy Cardell who had promised to undergo a 1,500m swim should anyone beat his best time of 3:10.

Hannah Matthews came closest for the youth swimmers posting an excellent time of 3:23. However, it was Harry Newman, completing in the juniors league, who gave Cardell the biggest fright, pulling off an outstanding final-week time of 3:16. It marked a huge improvement for Newman over the four weeks.

During the competitions, the swimmers continued to attend weekly land training sessions via zoom run by Spinroom’s Claire Cross, the club’s land training coach. These 40-minute workouts helped to keep everyone fit, with major emphasis on core strength.

But filling the time away from the pool wasn’t all about fitness levels. Deepings Swimming Club honoured and celebrated the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in June by setting swimmers the challenge of doing something related to the number 75.

Many focused on sporty themes, including 75 squats, 75 planks, 75km cycling, 75 seconds wall sit, 75 skips, 75 cartwheels, a 75-minute triathlon and an impressive 75 times running up and down the stairs.

Other imaginative celebrations included making 75 gingerbread men, juggling balls 75 times, making (and eating) 75 strawberries with chocolate and putting on 75 items of clothing (on one of the hottest days of the year!).

The club’s focus returned to swimming after the Government gave the green light for leisure centres to reopen in August. The coaching team started taking the squads to a variety of pools around Lincolnshire during the month, including Tallington Lakes outdoor pool and Boston’s Geoff Moulder leisure centre, to help re-establish their skills and swimming fitness.

In September, the club’s home pool at Deepings Leisure Centre reopened with restricted hours, enabling all squads to return to training until the end of 2020 when the country went into its third national lockdown.

During that time, the club entered the virtual Level X national competition, completing the 50m races with times posted against swimmers from across the country.

Chairman Andy Cardell said: “Not only did this remind us of the enjoyment of competitive swimming but the Swim England rankings show that the club has several swimmers at the top of the County Level X rankings.”

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