Olympics beckon

The nine Morpeth Swimming Club Olympic volunteers at King's Cross station on their way to the selection event.
The nine Morpeth Swimming Club Olympic volunteers at King's Cross station on their way to the selection event.
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A GROUP of Morpeth teenagers will be rubbing shoulders with top swimming stars as they have been successful in their bid to become Olympic volunteers.

The nine Morpeth Amateur Swimming Club members came through the selection process at the headquarters of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and will be helping out in the Aquatics Centre during the summer event.

Their responsibilities will include carrying athlete kit baskets to and from the starting blocks.

Abi Oman, Rebecca Proud, Alexander Garland, Andie Hinitt, Miriam Inverarity, Robert Carr, Claire Turner, Lucy Shuttleworth, Grace Welsh – all sixth formers at King Edward VI School – are now looking forward to their role on the biggest of sporting stages.

Robert, male club captain for 2011/12, said: “We were at the Riverside Leisure Centre when we were told we had been successful and I was so excited that I jumped in the pool. I can definitely say that I haven’t had a better training session.

“This is a great achievement for our club, which is generally seen as one which passes swimmers on to clubs in Newcastle, and it will help boost our profile.

“We’re proud to be representing Morpeth and the county. Hopefully, the races where we carry the kit will include legends like Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Rebecca Adlington and Ian Thorpe if he qualifies.”

The Young Games Makers selection process, which took place at the beginning of December in Canary Wharf, London, involved a teamwork exercise where groups from across the country were asked to put together a structure out of newspaper and sticky tape that would add something to the Olympic Park if it was built for real.

They also had to come up with an idea for an advert to get people interested in their chosen sport and present it in front of more than 100 people.

The Morpeth contingent’s proposal was two people sitting down watching television and being inspired by the stories of British medal winners over the years, so much so that at the end they turn off the television and say they are going down to their local swimming pool.

Claire, female club captain for 2011/12, said: “In the first task, we had a good mix of planners to design the structure and people to put it together.

“We were pleased with how the advert task went. We did the best we could and the presentation got a decent round of applause. We have known each other for so long that we were able to work together extremely well. But as there were so many groups at the selection days, we had to hope that we made enough of an impression on the judges.”

The teenagers will be joined by two adult team leaders – club Chair Lynda Garland and Head Coach Jenny Glossop.

They were interviewed at the selection event. This covered their experience of managing teams of young people and their knowledge of swimming.

Mrs Garland said: “It’s a great honour for the club, the town and Northumberland as not many people from the county will be so closely involved with the action at the Games. We will be doing fundraising events and activities to help cover our expenses, but any donations from the public will be gratefully received.”

The group will get the chance to do their tasks before the Games at the British Swimming Championships and Olympic Trials in March, which will take place in the Aquatics Centre.

KEVI Headteacher Simon Taylor said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the students and it’s a great honour for the town as well as the school.

“All nine are very dedicated to the sport and have put in many hours of training and helping out with club activities over the years, so getting the opportunity to volunteer at the Olympic pool is a wonderful reward for their commitment. Credit must go to the swimming club for successfully going through the selection process.”