Devonport Royal claim honours at Swim England South West Regional Awards

DEVONPORT Royal are celebrating after claiming honours at the Swim England South West Regional Awards.

Devonport picked up two awards, with James Lake named coach of the year and Abi Daly jointly claiming the Spirit of Aquatics Award.

The awards should have been presented at glittering ceremony at the Holiday Inn in Taunton, but they were postponed due to the period of national mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

However, regional president Chris Elliott has since visited the Plymouth Life Centre to present Lake and Daly with their prizes.

Lake claimed the coach of the year award ahead of some well known names. The judges were impressed with the way he has helped the club get back on its feet following lockdown and the lengthy closure of the Life Centre for repair work. The club admitted ‘numbers and morale’ were low at that point.

In his citation it said: “Since the Life Centre re-opened he has given the swimmers extra zing, by making swimming fun but instilling technique, land training and improving the standard of swimming.

“He has mentored the volunteer coaches so their understanding of how and what to teach has improved and means a standardised consistent level of coaching.

“Swimmers numbers have increased due to the way James has led the club.”

It added: “The swimmers enjoy their swimming and in particular the multi-class swimmers are doing so well they have qualified for British nationals.

“But importantly the swimmers are enjoying swimming again, having fun, having the support of James who has turned the club around from a few swimmers to a thriving membership.”

Daly is one of the multi-class swimmers that has benefitted from Lake’s coaching.

She was one of three winners of the Spirit of Aquatics Award.

Her citation said: “This season has been tough for Abi outside of the pool as she has transitioned from her special school to mainstream college.

“This has affected her, however, she has worked hard processing all the changes and is starting to mature.

“She has gone to an international meet, got season best times then qualified for finals to beat her times from the morning.

“She has also been picked to do the diploma in sporting excellence programme and has supported her para-swimming peers at these training camps.

“She has represented her region at the ‘Prep the Pool’ event, where she coped with a coaching support team she had never met and a lot of swimmers she never met at the commonwealth games test event.

“She swam in two individual events and two mixed para-relays.

“As well as that, she represented her sport by being a baton bearer for the Queen’s Baton Relay on the first day of the England tour.

“She is a mentor to another para-swimmer from her club, showing her how to prepare for competitions away from home. She is an inspiration to swimmers and a great ambassador for the sport. Despite all the set-backs she has had she has shown great resilience.”

Daly has recently attended an Adam Peaty race clinic and has also passed her National Pool Lifeguard Qualification even with her learning disability and autism. She worked hard with the lifeguard team at Plymouth Active Life Centre to pass her course.

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