Richmond Dales Amateur Swimming Club has been named Swim England’s Club of the Year at it's National Award Ceremony in Birmingham on November 26th.
Swim England, the national governing body for swimming in England, hosts the National Awards annually to celebrate the achievements of those involved in aquatics. The 14 coveted awards are hotly contested, and highly prestigious, with clubs and individuals from across the sector represented.
Richmond Dales ASC was nominated for the award having first secured the title of Swim England North East’s club of the year. This put them head-to-head for the national gong against some outstanding competition from Droitwich Dolphins, Farnham Swimming Club, Newmarket and District Swimming Club, Sutton Swimming Club, Romford Town Swimming Club, Wirral Metro Swimming Club and Swindon Amateur Swimming Club.
However, the top spot was ultimately awarded to Richmond Dales ASC thanks to its success in and out of the pool, as well as its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The Richmond and Catterick based club, which has around 150 members, has broad provision for swimmers of all ages and abilities and enjoys regular mainstream success at County, Regional and National level. It also has an outstanding Youth Development squad that forms a pathway for those who aspire to competitive swimming.
Richmond Dales ASC also has a growing reputation as a force within the para swimming field, another area that sits the heart of the club’s approach to diversity and inclusion. Indeed, the club enjoys huge success in this field, as evident in some of its recent achievements. Several members of the club’s Para squad recently represented GB at the World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships in Portugal, securing many medals and World Records. Still more competed and medaled at the British Para- Swimming Winter National competition in Glasgow.
Moreover, the club also places a strong emphasis on volunteering amongst its young swimmers, with several of them acting as ‘in pool’ support to help deliver one to one swimming lessons for young people who struggle with the likes of anxiety, dyslexia, ADHD and dyspraxia.
Success in the pool aside, Richmond Dales ASC sits very much in the heart of the community it serves, having a strong presence in the area and supporting several local causes. For example, at the outbreak of the Ukraine War, members and staff rallied to donate food and other goods for transportation to region. Coaching staff even formed part of the convoy that drove the good across Europe. Likewise, when the club heard of two talented young swimmers from Ukraine trying to flee the conflict, staff and members sprang into action, helping to find accommodation for the family, and funding the athletes swimming fees and expenses.
Michael Gunning, former professional swimmer and host of the 2022 Swim England National Awards commented at the ceremony:
“It really has been a challenging time – first, the Covid-19 pandemic forcing the closure of pools across the UK, while the industry is now having to deal with the rising cost of living crisis, which is sadly having a major impact on so many facilities. One thing that has been unwavering during these turbulent few years, however, is the commitment of everyone involved in swimming, diving, artistic swimming and water polo.”
About their Club of the Year Award, Richmond Dales ASC Head Coach commented:
“We could not be more delighted to have been named Club of the Year. It’s overwhelming. We’re over the moon because no doubt every other club that was nominated was a worthy candidate and all of them had their merits. It’s a real testament to the hard work and dedication of the swimmers, coaches and volunteers here at Richmond Dales.”
Richmond Dales ASC’s Chair of the Board, Steve Jones added:
“I’d just like to say a big thank you to Swim England for recognising our work, and I’d also like to congratulate the other finalists. Every club that made the final had some outstanding qualities, and in all the ways that count, we’re all winners.
He goes on:
“Richmond Dales is a very special club, with the coaching staff being amongst the most committed I’ve known. The swimmers themselves are an absolute credit to themselves and their club, and the dedication of the volunteers allow us to do a great deal with very little resource. We will now look to build on our achievement into 2023, to further increase our success in and out of the pool.”