Success at National Deaf Swimming Championships 2014

Tuesday 22 April

The National Centre for Swimming at Loughborough University recently welcomed swimmers aged nine to 20 for the 2014 National Deaf Swimming Championships.

Assistant Coach Martin Lee, an experienced multiple gold medal winning swimmer from the Deaflympics in New Zealand in 1989, explained what he has to do differently when coaching deaf swimmers.

“You have to ensure you have the swimmer’s attention before explaining sets. It is important to communicate well and to check that you have been understood. Because the start is by a flashing light, we also have to teach a slightly different start.”

With events from 50 to 200 metres, swimmers had the opportunity to compete in nine different events, all within four hours of competition and it is this punishing schedule that helps you understand why swimmers train so hard.

Nigel Kenny, father of 16-year-old Oliver, said, “We have really enjoyed deaf swimming (Nationals). When my son was young he was inspired by the older swimmers and found the environment so relaxing and enjoyable as he could communicate with everyone. Since then he has built lasting friendships and even though they only meet two or three times a year, the swimmers have a great bond.”

With 32 swimmers and five ‘guest’ hearing siblings taking part in 19 events, the water was soon a frenzy of activity as the swimmers began their pre-competition warm up.

Referee Ian Allchin highlighted that there are few adaptations for this being a deaf event. “Only for the starting procedure”, he said. When a flashing light is used alongside the usual high pitched beep of the starting machine.

He continued, “I understand that there is development work going on for a better starting process with a strobe for each lane.”

It was also a record breaking day, with no less than 26 National Deaf Records being beaten and five new Northern Ireland records being set. Four Deaf Welsh age group records were beaten by Emily Noden; Danielle Joyce set two new Deaf Scottish records, and new National Deaf age group best times were set by (11 and Under) Jake Bayley, Zack Merritt, Kieron Harris, Evie Gallen; (12 years) Martha Ryan and Ciara Tappenden; (13 years) Lewis McCulloch; (14 years) Kieran Holdbrook; and (16 years) Oliver Kenny.

You can find out the full results on the GB Deaf Swimming website or on the SL First results page.

Story source: Sarah Lawrence, SLFirst Magazine

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