Para swimmers prove their Paralympic potential
Over the weekend of 28 – 29 July, 8 emerging Para athletes were put to the test at the inaugural Para Swimming Paralympic Potential Training Camp. The camp served as an introduction to high performance training sessions and environments for New Zealand’s most promising Para swimmers.
The camp was held at the Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) Para Swimming National Training Centre at AUT Millennium in Auckland. Para athletes stayed at the onsite Lodge accommodation where photos of successful New Zealand athletes and inspirational sports quotes hang on every wall. Five gruelling swim sessions were scheduled over the 3-day camp, with almost all sessions including a challenging test set designed to push the Para athletes to their limit and show the coaches what they are capable of.
Out of the pool, swimmers visited the High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) physiotherapy clinic where PNZ Lead Physiotherapist Megan Munro conducted swimming-specific mobility benchmark testing and introduced Para athletes to some useful stretches and exercises. Benchmark testing was also conducted in the gym to assist Para athletes with their home strength and conditioning programmes.
Even the rest and recovery periods were maximised during camp, with National Development Coach Gary Francis leading workshops on nutrition and goal setting. The squad also worked together to explore and agree on the team culture they wanted to create and be recognised for. The leadership and team work displayed during this session was exceptional, and showed both maturity and readiness for the pursuit of a high performance pathway.
15-year-old Para swimmer, Olivia Upston, from the Parnell Swim Club in Auckland can’t wait for the next camp in October: “I got a lot out of the session on nutrition for optimal race performance and I’m looking forward to putting that into practice. I also enjoyed swimming with other Para athletes and having the opportunity to be coached by specialist coaches, working on my technique during fatigue. I look forward to the camps like this again.“
The camp was led by a dynamic coaching team of PNZ Para Swimming National Development Coach Gary Francis, Olympic swimmer Daniel Bell (Trojans Swim Club, Hawkes Bay), and relative newcomer to Para swimming, Ben Close (Selwyn Swim Club, Canterbury). As active coaches of Para swimmers, Daniel and Ben have been selected as assistant coaches for the Para Swimming Paralympic Potential Squad, and will benefit from mentoring and support to further their own development as well as their Para athletes’.
According to Francis, this camp was deliberately designed to extend the Para athletes beyond anything they had previously experienced, to push them to new limits and test their resolve: “I am extremely pleased with the Para athletes’ response – they met each challenge head on, supported each other and displayed many of the qualities they will need if they are to progress to world Para swimming elite level. Not only that but they were brilliantly supported by the young coaches, Ben and Daniel who designed some great training sets and supported the group both in and out of the pool.“
The Para Swimming Paralympic Potential Squad will meet again in Auckland in October, before joining the Para Swimming High Performance Squad at the Swimming Queensland Championships in Australia in December.
If you would like to find out more about becoming involved in Para swimming, please register your interest now.