Chairperson's Report - AGM July 2020

Gillian Higgins

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT – AGM JULY 2020

The 2020 AGM was held on Thursday 9th July and was presided over by our President, Eddie Coils.

David Curry has stood down as Chairperson of the Club, and it was proposed and seconded that Jill McClelland would take on the mantle of steering and guiding the Club into the future.

David has also resigned from the Committee and from coaching and his committment to the Club, over many years, as both a coach and Chairman is greatly appreciated.

The following were reelected:

Hon. Treasurer : Gavin Eakin

Hon. Secretary : Tara Hughes

A new committee was elected for 2020/21

David’s AGM Chairman’s Report for the 2019/20 season is below.

“I would like to welcome everyone to this the Annual General Meeting of Coleraine Swimming Club. This is the Chairperson’s report for the 2019/20 season.

The club started back training in September 2019 with over 140 swimmers registered during the season. Squads were selected, and training programmes put in place.

The following summarises some of our club’s activities and achievements throughout the season.

Our club captains were Andre Krystowski and Molly Curry.

The PTL team were once again in Division 2 and the season started on 28th September with an away gala v Lecale which we won. The PTL team competed and recorded victories against Portadown and Leander with a narrow defeat against Cookstown.

The Aquasprint Team – once again in the top division were against the top clubs in Ulster but due to the restricted season due to Covid19 we only managed to swim against Ards in January and Lisburn in February. Despite losing these galas against very strong opposition our young team of future stars were fantastic. As an example of how well these swimmers performed, in the gala against Lisburn we recorded 35 personal best times so lots to be positive about.

The Ulster Open Galas were very well attended with many new swimmers getting introduced to the Swim Ulster pathway to performance swimming. Our club came home from most of these galas with medals and pbs.

A few noteworthy performances and occasions were:

Jake Ilsley was selected as part of a team of 26 swimmers to go on the Ulster Schools Swimming Associations Tenerife training camp during the Halloween holidays. A great experience for a dedicated young swimmer.

Conor McIlroy Sanchez broke James Richardson’s 50m Breaststroke record with a new time of 31.37

Orla Quinn broke Charlotte Andersons 50m backstroke record with a new time of 33.41

Erin Ilsley broke Sharon Carson’s long standing U10 backstroke record with a new time of 18.35

Stuart Wallace won 2 individual gold medals and a silver relay medal at the Special Olympics gala in Lisburn in February

We entered the War memorial relay gala in Bangor for the first time in a long time which was great fun for all those involved. It would be great to see our members attend this every year.

We had swimmers qualify and swim in the McCullagh International gala. These swimmers were able to meet and in some cases swim against some of their swimming heros , such as Hannah Miley and Adam Peaty.

While it is fantastic to see the previously mentioned success of swimmers in our club, it’s encouraging to see so many younger swimmers starting on their competitive swimming journeys. Aquasprint swimming is so important to encourage these junior members and its such a pity this seasons fixture list not completed.

Our masters section continued to do the miles in and out of the pool with a number of our swimmers being keen open water swimmers. One example of their activities was a swim across the icy and jellyfish infested North Channel on 8th September where an especially hardy group left Donaghadee and swam to Portpatrick in Scotland. Well done to them on being an inspiration to our younger members. Its also nice for our younger members to see that swimming does not have to be all about swimming up and down a pool.

In October 2019 we held our clubs 50th Anniversary celebratory dinner at Arbutus at the Crannagh. Our guest speaker and one of the clubs founding members Jim Foote gave a short speech that was well received by all who attended. It truly was a special night where past members were able to meet and chat about when they were in the club. Our secretary Tara Hughes was key in organising this event and I would like to thank her for her tireless effort and enthusiasm in carrying out this task.

Our annual club awards were held in The Royal Court Hotel in January. The success of this evening was down to the hard work of a team of people, led by Rhodri Jones. Many thanks also to another of our members and new level 1 coach, Gillian Higgins who very kindly agreed to use her skills as a professional photographer to take some photos of the awards night. The event was again a huge success with the swimmers unrecognisable without their goggles. A new award was presented this year. The Jim Foote Cup for outstanding contribution to the club was awarded to a surprised and slightly embarrassed Gerry McEwan for his enthusiastic long stint of coaching, including being our clubs head coach and overall good guy and font of useful information in the club for many years.

Our club heavily invested this year again in training its coaches, with seven new level 1 coaches qualifying. While very expensive to put these coaches through their qualification it does leave our club in a good position going forward and we thank all these new coaches and indeed our existing coaches for all the time and effort they have and will put into our club over the incoming years. Our treasurer Gavin and our committee are also to be thanked for agreeing to release the funds to allow this to happen.

When members past and present think of their time involved with Coleraine Swimming Club its difficult not to think of certain people and it was with great sadness this year we lost our clubs friend Christine McIntosh, who passed away after a period of illness in April 2020. Christine I am sure has had a hand in coaching many of our current and previous members. She was a well-respected coach who was known for her no-nonsense approach and undoubted expertise in coaching. I for one started my coaching career helping her teach the youngest members of our club to swim and in more recent years saw her teach some of those same swimmers, the finer points of how to swim fast. Her passion for swimming and for our members was quite simply amazing and she supported and followed many of our swimmers from afar. Many messages of congratulations or encouragement to swimmers were received from her after their events. I along with many others have learned a lot from Christine and will be ever grateful for the time we coached together.

Another coach, not from Coleraine swimming club, but who sadly died in April 2020 was Chris Hudy the head coach of Swilly Seals in Letterkenny.  I mention Chris as I often attended Ulster and Irish Galas where there were no other Coleraine coaches attending. Chris was always a great friend and supporter of any Coleraine swimmer. He would always keep seats for Coleraine swimmers and coaches in the stands and welcomed our swimmers with his wide smile and infectious humour. Many times, he would walk up and down the poolside helping Coleraine swimmers with last minute preparations for races. He will be sadly missed at these events by all those involved in Irish swimming.

I would like to pass our condolences to both the families of Christine and Chris. They will be missed by our club.

Simon Walton is a very much alive and active coach, but  one that will sadly no longer be coaching at the club next season. Simon has been one of the most valuable people in our club. Simon who is a  level 2 coach with a wealth of experience and knowledge on swimming and sport in general has faithfully and enthusiastically been coaching twice a week or sometimes more without any family members swimming in our club. His dedication and willingness to help when we needed him was second to none. I have talked with many parents of competitive swimmers in the club who will be very sad to see him go as it was plain for everyone to see he had a good rapport with the swimmers and he knew how to write a good swim session. However he has a long suffering wife and a supremely talented family of athletes, some of which have been members of our club, and he felt the time was right for him to bow out and spend some time at home and participate himself in some open water swimming events. We will miss him very much and I’d like to express my personal thanks to Simon for all the fun times we have had in the club, including on our last swim club trip to Tenerife where he was a valued coaching member and source of much laughter.

That ends the season report and all that remains for me to do is to thank all the many volunteers that have helped coach, make tea at Aquasprint or PTL galas, serve on the committee or help time keep at various galas. The number of jobs needing to be done in a swimming club are huge and I hope I haven’t missed anyone out in my thanks.

I end my chairman’s report by expressing how important it is for us all to support our swimming club. Society and sport is facing a huge challenge with Covid 19. It is difficult for anyone to predict how life and indeed swimming will look in 2 months’ time never mind 12 months. Our committee and coaches have been working hard and making plans to be prepared and to restart our club when allowed to do so. The initial preseason registration to our current members has had an extremely high rate of registration. We will be guided by Swim Ireland and Swim Ulster and will follow the protocols advised regarding our return to the water, with our members and their family’s safety as our number one priority. The goal we have at Coleraine is for swimmers of all abilities to leave the pool safe and happy. One of the best quotes during the recent lockdown in my opinion has been from Captain Tom Moore, the 100 year old NHS fundraiser, when asked his advice to the public during this pandemic. He said – “The clouds will clear and the sun will shine once again”. I believe this to be true and Coleraine swimming clubs members will still be doing lengths and we will still be coaching swimmers to be great sportspeople with a great attitude to life.