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North Dorset Turbos Swimming Club (NDTSC) this week became one of the first in the county to resume competitive training, with a 90-minute slot under distancing at the RiversMeet Leisure Centre pool in Gillingham.

The club’s existing Development and Performance Squads have been reconfigured by times into separate groups of 20, to enable distancing in the pool using two lanes, each twice the normal width, in two successive sessions.

For the time being the first and sixth lanes in RiversMeet’s six-lane, 25-metre pool are being left empty for the club training-sessions.

North Dorset Turbos RiversMeet
North Dorset Turbos Acting Head Coach Rick Brocklehurst with swimmers Josie and Marcus at Tuesday’s training session at RiversMeet, Gillingham, their first since lockdown.

It is hoped the club’s younger Pre-Turbos swimmers will resume training shortly.

NDTSC conducted a detailed risk assessment for Covid-19, as advised by the sport’s governing body, Swim England, and will be observing the safety measures already in force at the Riversmeet Leisure Centre, which reopened Monday with a reduced pool timetable, including separate entry and exit routes.

For the next few weeks NDTSC will train at RiversMeet on Tuesday and Friday evening; the club’s other venue at Port Regis School has not yet reopened.

‘To say that our swimmers are really thrilled to be back in the water is probably understating it,’ said NDTSC Chair Alex Wynter after Tuesday’s session.

‘Of course training with distancing won’t be quite the same, and no one can be sure how long it will last, but this is a huge step toward normality for our athletes.

‘We’re extremely grateful to RiversMeet for being so decisive in opening up the two training slots for us as soon as they could; it’s no exaggeration to say they’re helping to save the sport of competitive swimming in this part of Dorset.’

NDTSC’s former Head Coach, Chris Gassmann, 79, who jointly founded the club in 2003, has brought forward his planned retirement slightly to the middle of this month; he stays on as club president.

The club’s sessions will now be presided over by Gillingham-based Acting Head Coach Rich Brocklehurst and assistant coaches.

‘Just like many businesses resuming in the aftermath of Covid-19 our future now depends on numbers,’ Mr Wynter added.

‘We’re entirely self-financing through membership fees, so to help us get back to our pre-pandemic level of four training sessions a week – a rough minimum in this sport – I’d urge any and all local youngsters with an interest in swimming to get in touch.

‘The club is friendly and fun and there’s space for everyone: from those who just want to swim a bit faster to the would-be Jazz Carlins and Adam Peatys.’

RiversMeet Turbos
Back with a splash: North Dorset Turbos in action at RiversMeet.
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