Olympic swim pair back new Duns initiative
OLYMPIANS Euan Dale and Julia Beckett are all set to make a splash in the Borders with the launch of new development project, Swim Ambition. Young swimmers now have the exciting opportunity to be coached by the elite pair who have been to the very top of their game.
In collaboration with Duns Swimming Pool the duo, who both represented Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, aim to inspire young swimmers from across the region and further afield.
Having begun his own competitive career at Duns, Euan wants to give something back to the sport, and is launching Swim Ambition with girlfriend Julia in order to share their experiences and knowledge with children from Clubs in the Borders, as well as others across Scotland and England.
"There's no doubt that there's talent in the sport in the Borders," Euan insists, "Swim Ambition is all about getting children motivated, and we want to help develop the sport in the area.
"The idea is that children will come to Swim Ambition sessions once a month for a three month block, starting at Duns Pool in May. They'll come here on a weekend and we'll coach them and teach them about the sport. We're trying to get children from different clubs to come and integrate and do things that they don't usually do in their normal swimming lessons.
"It's obviously about swimming, but even more it's about inspiration, motivation and most importantly enjoyment. If you're not really dedicated, a lot of talented swimmers drop out. We want to develop the fun."
"The fact that Euan is from the Borders means he can be a role model to the kids," Julia adds. "It just shows that they can do it too. We're just using our experiences and our knowledge of the sport from an inside perspective and feeding it through."
Olympian, double Common Wealth Games silver medallist and European Championship silver medallist, Euan is a Border sporting legend, having begun his swimming at Duns.
Julia has also had an extensive swimming career. A member of the 2008 GB team, she broke the British record at the Beijing Olympics to make it to the final in the 4x100m freestyle relay, and is also a Commonwealth Games silver medallist.
Having finished competing, Euan and Julia want to stay involved with the sport, and are enabling those at the start of a swimming career to benefit from their experiences.
"We miss swimming but it's more about missing the whole thing rather than the training and competing," explains Julia.
"Often people see swimming as an individual sport when actually it's all about supporting your team. We want to promote that and we're really excited to get started."
The first Swim Ambition session will be held at Duns Swimming Pool on May 8, and will consist of team exercises, drills and skills, and games.
"Before they get in the pool we'll introduce ourselves, have a little talk and give demonstrations," Julia says.
"The children will do some goal-setting, and when they come back the next month we'll see where the goals are at," adds Euan. "If you set someone a challenge and a goal it will stand them in good stead in the future, even if they don't continue swimming
"The idea is that the children sign up for three sessions because in each we'll build on the last session. We don't want them to get inspired, then go away and forget it, we want them to build on what they learn. It's a constant development.
"Even if we can inject the smallest bit of inspiration and motivation into a percentage of people we have done our job."
So far there has been a lot of interest in the project, with children from as far a field as Manchester booked in for the first session.
"Duns Swimming Pool have been really wonderful in supporting the idea and we are delighted to have been offered this opportunity through them," Julia says. "This is where Euan began his competitive career and has great sentimental attachment for him."
Duns Pool have applied for a Rural Priorities grant to improve the facilities, and will find out in May if their application has been succesful.
"We are delighted that Euan and Julia have come on board," says Duns Pool manager Kirsty Inkpen. "The pool has survived on a shoe string in comparison to all the other pools in the Borders and it is a tribute to the staff, trustees and directors who have shown commitment and dedication to maintaining the facility." Swim Ambition will also provide one-to-one sessions for adults wanting to improve technique and stamina, and will cater for all abilities. For more information visit the Swim Ambition website at www.swimambition.co.uk or to book onto a session email Kirsty Inkpen at [email protected] dunsswimmingpool.co.uk or telephone (01361) 883397.