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Swim Squads with a difference

What to do when you’re Head Swim Coach and you can’t physically train your squad on site? Well, Mr Creighton devised some very creative solutions to the challenges of lockdown. Read on!

When lockdown was first announced at the start of July, Wenona’s Swim Department quickly moved to online training for all swimmers. As Head Swim Coach, I organised strength sessions three mornings a week, dividing our Junior School squad and our Senior School squad into Breakout Rooms to conduct their training. Wenona’s Assistant Coach, Ms Cristina Di Traglia also led Pilates sessions on two afternoons a week, which proved very popular.



Once I realised lockdown was going to be running for a prolonged period, I started to look at different ways to develop our swimming community’s skills in an online forum. I grew up in a hospitality family, with my mother a pastry chef and my father owning restaurants and running front of house operations. From a very young age, I was working and assisting in the family business, so I have some skills in that area, as well as a passion for food and cooking. This was my inspiration for my Cooking with Coach sessions that I ran every Friday during lockdown. It was an opportunity to do some cardio training – with students and their families – while also preparing food. It gave the Swim Team a chance to bond in a different way and I was also able to educate and provide ideas for nutritional snacks for the students’ lunch boxes at the same time. We had more than 30 participants join each session. However, I did notice that we had more takers when I was cooking a sweet or more decadent recipe!

Sydney to Byron Bay

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Another initiative that I introduced during the holidays was a virtual Sydney to Byron Challenge. The distance from Sydney to Byron is 767km. With restrictions in place, our students were unable to go on holidays, so the plan was to virtually travel to a holiday destination in teams.

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The aim of the Sydney to Byron Challenge was to encourage our Swim Team to take time away from our online training environment and go outside and take advantage of the gorgeous Spring weather. I also wanted them to form teams with swimmers from different squads and year groups so that we could foster a stronger sense of connection and community and encourage social interaction. I devised all the guidelines and rules, which I posted on the Junior and Senior Swim Team pages on Portal. Amelia, Laura, Isabella and Lottie stepped up as Team Captains and played a pivotal role in motivating their teams.

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Altogether, we had 52 students taking part, completing an hour of structured exercise each day, which could be anything from an ocean swim, a bush walk, a short or long-distance running program, a bike ride or they could also complete a program on the Wenona HomeFit Hub. I also joined in the Challenge and took part in the online Zoom workouts as I wanted to lead by example during lockdown.

During the holidays, we also had two online catch-ups. Each team took part in a 40-question Kahoot! Challenge and we also had a Scavenger Hunt at home, with students competing to find items that matched the descriptions provided. Both catch-ups were hilarious!

It was fantastic to see so many brave individuals committing to ocean swimming and getting into the cold water without wets suits! It was also amazing to see students meeting up in their LGA to exercise together. I was also excited to see parents getting involved. I think the Sydney to Byron Challenge provided both entertainment and motivation to families, as well as breaking up the holidays at a time when nobody could physically travel.

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A huge congratulations to Ellis Express, whose combined efforts meant they travelled a total of 1459.7km! The Don’s came second with 1416.2km, followed by Michael’s Minions with 1117.4km, and Daunting with 1087.1km. Altogether, our students travelled a total of 5,080.4km! To put this in context, it’s about 3295km to drive to Perth… so our students did very well!

With the end of lockdown and students due back on campus, I cannot wait to get our swimmers back to the pool to commence preparation for the 2022 School Carnival season, as well as the NSW Summer Competition calendar.