Popularity of swimming in Alex grows

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Swimming is on the rise in Alexandra as more than 60 children and teenagers jump into the town’s pool each week.

Club night swimming involves six coaches who work with about 25 children of primary-school age.

Coaches Celeste Dorrepaal and Judy Aitken children, who sometimes did not even want to step in the pool, right through to being able to swim using all strokes.

Children could then move to the competitive squad, which has doubled in size in the past two seasons, and now has 45 swimmers in the squad.

Competitive squad coaches Shane Allan said there was a waiting list for children and teenagers who wanted to join the competitive squad, but they were limited by pool space.

The competitive season was already under way. The club had competed in the Colin Walker Memorial, in Queenstown, and the Orca Labour Weekend meet, in Invercargill, last month.

Nineteen Alexandra swimmers raced in Queenstown.

‘We were third overall and won a $100 prize,” Allan said.

Emma Rees (12) was club swimmer of the day, while Ethan Ludlow (13) won his ageĀ group, Riley Allan (9) was second in his age group and Caleb Ludlow (9) was third in his age group.

“We have huge talent. Some of the swimmers coming through, if they stick with it, they’ll go a long way,” Rees said.

All year, the competitive squad trains in preparation for the National Age Group Championships and the New Zealand Division 2 Championships.

Allan said the club was hoping to send about six swimmers to each event.

There will also be other junior championship and South Island events throughout the next six months.

Next year, the Alexandra Swimming Club will host the Otago Country Championships at Waitangi Weekend, in addition to the Alexandra Challenge Cup, which is held on the Saturday of Waitangi weekend each year.

Allan said this year the club had won the junior cup at the country championships and was second in the senior section.

“Hopefully, we’ll take out both this year .. the talent we produce in a small town is amazing. It’s outstanding really.”

The Alexandra Swimming Club offers both competitive and club night swimming, which caters for all ages and abilities.

Club swimming nights are two nights a week on a Tuesday and Thursday from 5pm to 6pm and the competitive squad trains six times a week in the peak season.

If people are interested in helping teach children to swim, or children want to start swimming, they can find out more at www.asc.org.nz.