A TRIO of teenagers who are leaving for pastures new have spoken very highly of their time at Morpeth Swimming Club.
Philip Shuttleworth, Abbie Evans and Tom Herbert have gone to university after achieving good A-Level results.
The 18-year-olds took part in competitions and a range of sessions at the Riverside Leisure Centre and they will miss their friends and coaches.
Abbie started in Year 6 and before studying for GCSE and A Level exams meant she had to reduce the amount of time spent at the club, she did up to four sessions a week including mornings.
One of her highlights was when Olympic medallist Nick Gillingham came to Morpeth to run a breaststroke course.
“I joined the club mainly for the fitness and social side of it — I made a lot of friends,” she said.
“Everyone gets along really well and the coaches were always there if you needed some support.
“Even if you are not a very good swimmer you can go along and gradually build up your skills and there is no pressure on you to take part in competitions.”
Abbie is studying Biology at Sheffield University.
Tom Herbert, from Hebron, joined two years ago and he regularly took part in regional swimming competitions.
The Environmental Sciences student at Plymouth University said: “I went along because some of my friends were members and I wanted to build up my fitness.
“My main events were the 50m and 100m freestyle and I was most proud of achieving a 50m personal best of 28.50 seconds at a Northumberland & Durham competition in Sunderland.
“I would highly recommend joining the club because the coaching is excellent and you can also have some fun — for example at the end of sessions we often played water polo.”
Philip was a club member from the age of five and he juggled his swimming with other sports including football and athletics.
The Kirkhill resident until a few weeks ago, when he started his Pharmacy degree at Manchester University, was a swim captain last year and helped out with some sessions after he completed his A-Level exams in June (he has a qualification to teach swimming beginners).
“I really enjoyed my time at the club and I would like to thank the coaches I’ve had for helping me to develop my skills,” he said.
Alasdair Inverarity also did his A-Level exams this summer, but he is staying as he is on a gap year, during which he will provide support to the maths department at King Edward VI School.
The 18-year-old said: “It’s a great club to be part of — there is a friendly atmosphere and the older and younger swimmers mix together.”
The departure of Abbie, Philip and Tom provides opportunities for new members wishing to join the club in the following categories:
Beginners sessions from 7pm to 8pm on Monday evenings at Collingwood School and Media Arts College, Stobhillgate.
Stroke development sessions between 4pm and 5pm on Sundays at the Riverside Leisure Centre, New Market.
l Two volunteers from Morpeth Swimming Club have been recognised by the North East Region of the Amateur Swimming Association by winning Aquaforce Volunteer Awards.
Peter Rushworth received the 2011 Long Service Award in recognition of his 40-plus years of working with the club.
He was instrumental in setting the club up in 1969 and over 40 years later he still coaches at the pool side as well as being the club’s President.
Claire Turner was given the 2011 Young Volunteer Award for all the commitment she has shown to the club over recent years.
She is the current female club captain and as well as being an active swimmer with the club, she also regularly helps as part of the coaching team.
In order to enhance her coaching skills she has gained a swim teaching qualification, a Young Aquatic Organiser qualification and is also qualified as a competition official.
l Morpeth Swimming Club hosted its annual gala against Portobello Swimming Club last month.
For the last five years the trophy has lived in a Scottish trophy cabinet, but in 2011 it has come back to England with Morpeth coming out victorious by 287 points to 274.
The competition saw some impressive individual performances by swimmers from both teams, with Gregory Parker, Ethan Howe and Lauren Howe standing out particularly for the home team, but every Morpeth team member contributed to the overall win.