Looking back over 2020, it would be easy to imagine it's been a tough year with little to celebrate - however Peterborough's elite swimming club, COPS, have a lot to be thankful for.
We had a promising start to the year and looked set to compete at the highest of levels, until the national lockdown brought a new and, yes, unprecedented set of challenges to navigate.
Coaches and committee members set to work on how to maintain member engagement across all squads and keep fitness levels high without using swimming pools. This was challenging but creative and dedicated minds working together made it happen. We got a programme that was not only Covid safe but that also helped to work towards our goals.
This included weekly Zoom cooking classes with some of Peterborough's local chefs who helped to teach the the importance of a healthy and balanced diet, as well as online pilates, fitness classes and weekly outside strength and conditioning sessions. Members were still gaining the benefits of this experienced club while learning new skills and maintaining fitness.
Covid liaison officers ensured that social distancing was adhered to and that all participants were following the rules set out by Swim England and government guidance.
Looking forward to 2021 the club is still focused on maintaining high health and safety standards with Covid precautions in place but being able to get back into the pools (even for a short time) has been a huge boost for swimmers and coaches alike. We're gutted about the new Tier announcement, but prior to it all members had returned to an almost full training programme with extra online sessions to boost the programme where needed. We can't wait to be allowed back to it again.
Mini squad swimmer Amelie Stevenson, 9, said: "I really missed swimming but my coach Paul played some great games with us and made online training fun. I've loved seeing all my friends again and practicing all the things we had learnt over the summer, and my mum said its really good for helping to burn off some of my energy!"
Reflecting on 2020, our head coach Ben Negus said: "2020 has been a challenging year for all, but it has also provided the youngsters with some essential life skills. Our young members have learned management skills, how to be adaptable, how to manage their resolve and how to look to develop in different avenues for their future.
"They have been able to take this time to understand what their goals are and find different routes to achieving them. For every challenge 2020 has brought, our members have gained some level of resolve and resilience that will stand them in good stead for the future. This generation won’t just bounce back - they will lead the way thanks to these experiences."