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Swimmers make a splash at championships

Laura Taylor, Mason Jacques and Emma Cassell

Three students from Sunderland College’s new Swimming Development Centre are making waves after winning a regional competition.

Emma Cassell, Mason Jacques and Laura Taylor swam their way to success in the North East regional finals of the Association of Colleges (AoC) Sport National Championships on October 15.

They will now represent the college and the North East in the national finals which take place at Bath University in spring 2015.

Mason, from Chester-Le-Street, said: “We’re all really happy to get through to the national championships. It is exciting but I think I will be nervous because this is a completely new experience and we’ll be competing against lots of great swimmers.”

The three students will get the chance to train at Bath’s Intensive Training Centre in the run-up to the championships and will meet the likes of Michael Jamieson, who won a silver medal in the 200 metre breaststroke at the London 2012 Olympics, and Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, who secured six medals at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last summer.

Emma, Mason and Taylor, all aged 16, belong to the college’s Swimming Development Centre, which launched in September and is designed for students who are looking to progress their swimming to an elite level while continuing their studies.

The development centre programme offers high-quality swimming coaching to students through an exclusive partnership with City of Sunderland Amateur Swimming Club (SASC).

Students receive coaching at Sunderland Aquatic Centre and study at the college’s new state-of-the-art sports facilities at Bede campus, where they take part in a mixture of practical and theoretical lessons.

In addition to the training element of the programme, the development centre provides recovery sessions and physiotherapy, strength and conditioning and nutritional advice.

Laura, from Ryhope, said: “The centre is great and it works really well because we can balance our swimming sessions with our studies and assignments. As well as helping us to improve our swimming, the programme also gives us a good grounding in the theoretical side of sport and exercise science.”

Emma, from Hartlepool, added: “Being part of the development centre gives us an advantage because we have time to train and we can take part in lots of competitions to help us develop our swimming. After completing the course there are opportunities for us to progress in swimming and coaching.”

James Hair, the college’s sports development officer, said: “The Swimming Development Centre is a unique programme which offers students a combination of elite coaching sessions and academic study.

“Lessons are carefully planned around swimming sessions to ensure students can focus on both aspects of the programme, and the training schedule is designed to reflect a professional swimmer’s routine. The programme prepares students for further study at a higher education level and gives them a platform to hone their swimming skills.”

Danny Thompson coaches the students at the Swimming Development Centre and is head coach at SASC. He said: “The centre is the first to offer development and gives potentially elite athletes the opportunity to achieve proper recognition of the skills, knowledge and understanding they are gaining in their quest for excellence in their chosen sport.”

For more information about the Swimming Development Centre, call 0191 5116000 or email james.hair@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk

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