Club Swimmers eagerly look forward to making a splash

By | 20/08/2020

This article was taken from the Musselburgh Courier

Neil Ferguson, a member of Musselburgh Amateur Swimming Club, put his time away from the pool to good use during the Covid-19 crisis by cycling from his Edinburgh home to Musselburgh beach in support of the STV Children’s Appeal

MUSSELBURGH swimmers are eagerly awaiting a mid-September date to resume their training.

Gill Downie, president of Musselburgh Amateur Swimming Club (MASC) said: “The Scottish Government announced in late July the indicative date which will hopefully see the reopening of pools and leisure facilities across the country.

“Although it is welcome news that our pools will finally open, it does mean another lengthy wait for our swimmers before they can make a splash.”

She paid tribute to the “incredible resilience” shown by the swimmers during the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that the crisis had not paused the club activities.

One club member, Neil Ferguson, 18, put his time away from the pool to good use by cycling 17 miles from his home in Morningside, Edinburgh, to Musselburgh beach and back in aid of Claverhouse Rotary Dundee Cyclathon Challenge, in support of STV Children’s Appeal.

Neil suffered a major stroke four years ago after a rugby injury and can no longer use a regular bike.

His recumbent bike was adapted for him to use his left hand to control steering, gears and braking.

It also allows him to send signals to his helmet, which has indicator lights, and his right foot is strapped in.

Gill said: “Swimmer engagement has been fantastic throughout the past few weeks and months.

“The pandemic has challenged us in many ways, as it has for everyone, and it has forced us to think outside the box in terms of creating new methods of delivery and engagement to reach our incredible MASC family.

“We have held weekly club quizzes, games and challenges, which have all been a massive hit.

“We also hosted club Zoom calls which included games and activities for the swimmers to take part in, have a lot of fun and, for many, catch up with their peers for the first time in months.

“We had a swimmer who went viral after creating an outstanding stop motion swimming video – who needs the water?”

“The coaches cannot wait to welcome the swimmers back on to poolside”

Gill added: “At the start of lockdown, we set up a new section on our website called the Virtual Training Hub, which has been a resource for land-based training sessions as well as many other swimming resources to keep the swimmers busy, including videos, articles, podcasts and books.

Using the hashtag #MASCAtHome, our swimmers have kept us up to date with what they have been getting up to during lockdown.

“As well as providing training and physical challenges, we also set up a virtual poolside helper course for 10 of our swimmers.

“The course is a Scottish Swimming course, run internally by MASC, which sees the development of swimmers who wish to take the first steps in becoming qualified coaches.

“We normally run this course on poolside and in the classroom face to face each year; however; Covid-19 has forced us to complete the course virtually for the first time.

“We were the first club in Scotland to do this and have been pioneers for Scottish Swimming, providing feedback to them on how the course has run so that others can follow in our footsteps.”

Gill said: “Although these are challenging times for the club, we have also had some good news whilst away from the pool.

“Last week it was announced that 12 MASC swimmers were invited by Scottish Swimming on to the district regional programme (DRP) and national squad programmes for the coming 2020/21 season.

“The swimmers who achieved DRP are Grace Courtney, Eilidh Armstrong, Hannah Wardell, Zach Slater, Ava Marko, Sam Downie and Lucy Degg.

“Those achieving national squads are Bridget Lemasurier, Meagan Porteous, Iona Wilson, Luke Hornsey and Dylan Bleakley.”

She added: “As we start to get closer to that September date, anticipation and excitement are starting to build.

“The coaches cannot wait to welcome back the swimmers onto the poolside and get the new season off to a start.”

MASC, also known as Musselburgh Marlins, train in the pool at Musselburgh Sports Centre.