Throughout the month of May, Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) delivered a series of Para swimming development camps designed to encourage and support up-and-coming Para athletes and coaches along their Para sport journey.
North Island and South Island Regional Development Camps were held at the Rotorua Aquatic Centre in the Bay of Plenty, and Moana Pool in Dunedin. In total, 20 aspiring Para swimmers attended the regional development camps, which provided an introduction and stepping stone into the PNZ Para Swimming National Development Programme. These camps allow for valuable interaction between community Para swimmers and PNZ staff.
Pool sessions at the regional development camps were led by PNZ Paralympic Potential Coach Scholarship recipients, Daniel Bell from Trojan’s Swim Club (Hawkes Bay) and Ben Close of Selwyn Swim Club (Christchurch). These coaches were assisted by Henk Greupink of United Aquatic Sports (Rotorua) and Sharleen Gillespie from Zenith Swim Club (Dunedin), who provided valuable insight and support to all participants, and a local point of contact for new Para swimmers looking to become more involved.
The swimmers also attended several development workshops, including exploring what it means and what it takes to be a high performance Para athlete and how to set goals. In Dunedin this session was delivered by track and field Paralympian Caitlin Dore and Dunedin Swimming Head Coach Lars Humer. Humer returned to Dunedin this year after many years coaching in the UK, part of which included leading the British Para Swimming Programme.
PNZ Community Development Manager Kieran Wall, who coordinated both regional development camps, was pleased with how the camps went:
"Overall there was a high quality of swimmers present and it will be interesting to see how they progress over the next year or so. In addition to that, it was great to connect with new Dunedin swim coach Lars Humer."
The regional development camps were followed by a National Development Camp for 12 of New Zealand’s most promising national level Para swimmers. The National Development Camp was held at the PNZ Para Swimming National Training Centre at AUT Millennium in Auckland. With the New Zealand Open Championships just around the corner, the theme for the National Development Camp was “preparing for your pinnacle event”. In line with this theme, Para swimmers completed 4 gruelling sessions in the water focussed on technique and measuring progress since the last camp, as well as 3 development workshops led by PNZ Para Swimming High Performance Programme Leader Graeme Maw, PNZ Performance Psychology Lead, Rod Corban, and PNZ Communications Manager, Melissa Dawson. Para swimmers were also treated to a Q&A panel with some of New Zealand’s Para swimming representatives from the recent Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The National Development Camp serves not only as a Para athlete development opportunity, but also a valuable experience for Para swimming pathway coaches from across the country. PNZ Para Swimming Performance Coach Simon Mayne led a 6-strong coaching team, providing hands-on mentoring via a collaborative approach to the design and delivery of pool sessions. Coaches were able to share ideas with each other and enjoyed working with a diverse group of Para athletes with multiple impairment types.
With 20+ Para swimmers and 8 Para swimming coaches directly involved in PNZ Para Swimming development activities in a single month, PNZ are pleased with the growth of Para swimming in New Zealand, are confident in the direction we are heading, and are excited to see what the future will bring for these enthusiastic individuals!
For more information on how to get involved in Para swimming, please register your details online