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Swimming All-stars to make a splash

Issued: 8 Nov 2010

Olympian Joanne Jackson and a top team of coaches and sports specialists will be arriving in Inverness on Thursday 11 November to run a series of All Stars training sessions for Highland swimmers. Based in the Highlands for four days, Joanne, will be visiting Invergordon Leisure Centre on Sunday 14 November to launch the Scottish Swimming Learn to Swim initiative in the Highlands with the help of 5-8 year olds children currently learning to swim in council run pools.

Sessions for the master classes, which will take place at Inverness Aquadome, are fully booked with swimmers coming from all areas of the Highlands. The first session is for over 18 Master Swimmers and this takes place from 6pm to 9pm on Thursday 11th. On the 12th and 13th the swim clinics are for younger competition level swimmers aged under 11 years and from the 14th to the 15 it will be the turn of swimmers aged from 11 to 17. All sessions will run during the day from 9am to 6pm.

The Highland Council's Swimming Development Officer Jeff Tavendale said: "The response from Highland swimmers to this fantastic opportunity has been great with all places on the clinic sessions now fully booked. The visit will no doubt provide a lot of inspirations. Everyone coming along will be able to watch demonstrations and then take part in advanced swimming techniques to help them progress in their own training. As well as learning in the pool, the swimmers will get lots of practical advice on nutrition, physiotherapy, psychology and how to get the most out of their training sessions to help them achieve their goals. They will also be able to speak to Joanne about her career as a top swimmer and get an insight into what it takes to stay focused and motivated.

Joanne first represented Great Britain in 2001 as a junior and in 2003 she was selected as a senior and immediately had her first major success when she medaled at the European Short Course Championships. The following year at only 17 years of age she was selected to swim in her first Olympic Games in Athens in the 400m freestyle. In 2006 as a member of England's Commonwealth Games team in Melbourne she won a brace of silver medals. At the Olympics in Beijing Joanne was presented with the 400m freestyle bronze medal in a thrilling race where she was just touched out of the gold & silver medals. At the 2009 World Championships in Rome she had an incredible swim in the fastest women's 400m race of all time, getting her first success of the championships with a silver medal which was followed by bronze in the 4x200m relay in a new European record time. She also took silver medal in the 800m. At the recent Commonwealth Games in India she won a bronze medal in the 4×200m freestyle.

On Sunday at Invergordon Leisure Centre Joanne will help launch the revamped Learn to Swim programme which will be rolled out to all Highland Council run Swimming Pools. Young children from Thurso, Wick, Sutherland, Tain, Invergordon, Dingwall, Nairn, Ullapool, Grantown on Spey and Nairn will be coming along to watch a special demonstration before having lessons and then getting presented with special certificates.

Jeff added: "In Highland we have been piloting the Scottish Swimming Learn To Swim initiative and it has been tweaked and is now ready to be rolled out. I am delighted that Joanne and the All Stars team will be able to join us for the official launch. In Highland in excess of 1000 children each week learn to swim at council run pools and staff do a tremendous job in passing on the skills and giving children the confidence to enjoy being in the water. Who knows, some of the young swimmers may be inspired enough to follow Joanne's example and one day we may watch them on a medal podium."

Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of The Highland Council's Education, Culture and Sport committee said: "Having such a high profile team of experts come to the Highlands is a real achievement for everyone involed and I am certain all those taking part in the master classes will get a lot out of their sessions. It is good that young learner swimmers will also get a chance to be involved. Learning to swim is an important skill, not only in order to stay safe in the water but it also opens up opportunities to take part and enjoy lots of water based leisure activities. It is much easier to learn as a child than as an adult which is why our Leisure staff play such an important role. Their support and instruction to over 1000 children each week is impressive and I am sure they will find the newly improved national initiative helps them in their teaching."

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme