Llandudno 2017 - What a fantastic time

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We have just safely returned from our annual swimming development camp in Llandudno. This year we took more swimmers than ever before (40) and a lot of new swimmers who not only haven't attended a camp before, but hadn't been away from home before.

New to camp this year were, Aleena, Sam, Daniel (known as little Daniel), Alice C and Alice B, Daisy, Emaan, Grace, Benji, Konrad, Monique, Teigan, Chloe, Piper, Shyan, Navneet, Lana, Madison, Jamie and Georgina.

Returning were Aimee, Molly, Fabian, Megan, Emily, Seth, Janie, Daniel (Big Dan), Anna, Emily with a tail, Scott, Raveall, Phillip, Joshua, Clare, Michelle, William, Vernon (although he didn't actually arrive due to storm)

The youngest swimmers were aged 6 years old and the oldest 70 years old. Quite a range.

Staff this year were Karen, Steve, Pam, Heather, Michelle and Georgina (although Georgina and Michelle also trained in the pool at every session). Steve and I only managed one session in the water this year. Additional teachers were Emily and Megan.

Despite a couple of last minute drop outs, this year's camp was absolutely fantastic, with the least amount of problems we have ever had.

We had six swim sessions over 3 days and one land training session. We had trips to the beach, pier, shops, amusement arcade, walks on the promenade, exploring the town, as well as the 4-6 times a day walk to and from the pool.

Each swim session was divided into 4 lanes, with a training programme specifically written for each of the four lanes. Lane 1 covered 30,000m over all the sessions, with specific turn around times and sprint sessions included, Lane 2 covered 22,000m again with specific times and sprint sessions, Lane 3 covered 18,000m which is more than some of them have ever swam before in their entire lives, and Lane 4 had specific individual plans per swimmer.

Lane 1 swimmers included Scott, Raveall, Benji, William, Alice C, Shyan, Joshua, Aimee,

Lane 2 swimmers included Anna, Daisy, Emaan, Konrad, Monique, Navneet, Madison, Jamie, Janie, Seth, Clare,

Lane 3 swimmers included Sam, Alice B, Grace, Teigan, Chloe, Michelle, Georgina, Lana, Phillip,

Lane 4 swimmers included Daniel (Big Dan), Aleena, Daniel (little Dan), Piper, Fabian

Monique, Daisy and Alice B all moved up a lane through their hard work by the end of the week.

Helping in the water and on poolside were also Grace, Alice C, Emaan, Janie, Molly, Emily and Megan

Sessions focused on different technique, speed and stamina, and in lane 4 new strokes were introduced included butterfly (Well Daniel E for picking this up very quickly) and specific stroke technique was implemented, where a swimmer had a particular weakness area

We had one late evening session, which has always proved to be successful from previous camp experience, focusing on just starts, turns and finishes, with every staff member (yes including me despite my weak arm, and Steve despite his bad back) taking part from in the water. We all worked hard but had some fun too.

On Thursday morning we were joined by Paralympic swimmer Jack Thomas, who gave some training tips and shared some of his experiences with us. He watched us train and then gave us demonstrations of his own training techniques. He brought his medals in to show us, and swimmers had the opportunity to have their photos wearing the medals.

For the relay session, each team was given a captain, Joshua, Aimee, Shyan and Alice C and there was some great encouragement shown. Everyone took part except for Steve and I, even our weaker swimmers, and everyone showed great support for all of the swims, with Joshua coming out with the overall winning team. However, I would like to acknowledge Aimee as her captaincy was outstanding, she ensured her team were well prepared for the strokes they were going to swim, and ensured full support for the weaker swimmers in her team.

After each session, one swimmer was acknowledged per lane for their hard work:

Thank you to Molly, Emily and Megan who helped to make the relay teams even by swimming.

In the evening, we were all entertained by the singers, dancers and musicians with everyone joining in. The staff had a karaoke session; no doubt there are few recordings of that going around on mobile phones!!

Although, we had to deal with one or two issues that resulted with 2 swimmers having to change rooms, I have to say that this year was outstanding for the behaviour and conduct of all our swimmers. They represented Orion SC and Orange Squad with honour and pride. The respect and comradeship shown by everyone, was exceptional with everyone helping out others, being helpful and supportive towards staff and even offering comfort to teammates when the tiredness kicked in. Older swimmers supported younger swimmers in ways that is probably unheard of in other areas of sport. From just clapping and cheering, to giving guidance and advice, they were all amazing and everyone should be very proud of themselves. I can tell you, I am very proud of all of them.

We did get hit by Doris - what an experience that was! I am sure that the swimmers will tell you all about it, but my coat still hasn't dried out, despite being in the airing cupboard over night. Emily with a tail still hasn't recovered yet! It was frightening, exciting and a real true experience, not one that I really want to repeat if I am honest. Poor Chloe, Sam, and Alice B, who all ended up being blown over and my wrist that ended up being pulled the wrong way trying to hang onto Fabian, Teigan and Daniel. You wouldn't believe that we ended up playing on the beach by the afternoon under a blue sky, after the morning we woke up to! Seth's room key ended up in Norfolk (at least that's where we guessed we would find it after it was blown out of his hand), and we still have no idea where the hat ended up, on some seagull's head probably.

We plan to return next year, and there isn't a single swimmer from this camp, that I would not be happy to invite again. For next year's camp to be available, and we would like to take fifty people if we can, funds will need to be raised. It costs around £130 per swimmer for this trip, and to ensure that everyone who deserves a place, can go, a lot of fund raising will be required. We managed it this year, so hoping that we can be successful again in raising the money for next year.

Well done Emaan on turning up to training Friday night - well done me for turning up to coach you!

I would like to thank everyone who helped with the organising of this camp. The organising started way back in June last year, and yes it does take that long, to ensure the bookings are correct, the transport is correct, the accommodation is correct and that the staffing levels are correct. Staff have to attend training before they can attend, giving up their free time over and above the half term week time, and a lot of paperwork including the risk assessments for each person/swimmer/session has to be completed. This is why when swimmers drop out at the last minute it becomes very difficult, and organisation has to be changed, causing a lot of extra stress on others. It can also means that a swimmer will end up in a room on their own if a replacement cannot be found, and again that can spoil someone else's enjoyment of the camp.

I would like to firstly thank Heather, who gave up her half term break (yes she is a teacher in a special needs school) to come with us, as she does every year. This year, her son was not able to attend, but she still gave up her time to attend. Without her, some of the swimmers would not have had their medication on time, or be creamed sufficiently, or would still be packing their bags even now. Thank you Heather and look forward to next year when hopefully, Alex will be able to come too.

Thank you to Megan and Emily who helped me out with teaching this year. Emily is getting very good at tapping now. Don't think Big Dan banged his head once - at least not in the pool. (Don't mention the bump in land training with the ceiling when doing star jumps - oops) Thank you to all the helpers who supported individual swimmers with technique work (Alice C, Emaan, Grace, Janie, Molly) in the water, and thank you to William who helped load and unload the luggage, it wasn't an easy job. A huge thank you to Pam, Michelle and Georgina, without their help and support, we would not have been able to do everything we did this year. Swimmers wouldn't have had anything to eat at midday without Pam and Heather organising the lunchtime food. A very special thank you to Steve, who not only rescued my group of 6, Big Dan, Anna and Emily with the tail from Doris, but also provided us with a solo of Sweet Caroline on Karaoke in the evening. He was always the first staff member downstairs (although not necessarily the first one up) and his superb coaching skills allowed lane 1 to achieve the main aims. He also drove there and back, giving us the much needed second car.

Highs and Lows of the week

I know this list won't mean a lot to some people and only those who were there at the time will appreciate some of this, but it's worth a read and hopefully will bring back some fond memories for all who attended and a smile to those who did not.

Parking ticket again (within one hour) - why is it always me that gets caught?
How fast did the coach go?
Buckets and spades
Michelle's wet jeans - you're supposed to roll them up when paddling!
Sandcastles with moats - hence the wet jeans
Sandcastle building in the rain - they didn't even notice the rain
Big Daniel fly swim
Karen's 200 cups of tea. We managed to train the staff eventually to provide larger pots and to be faster to get them onto the tables - it meant that I only pinched 2 cups worth from Scott's table. Still had leaky teapots though! Even got 4 teapots at one point
Sam likes tea too
Chloe's diving - getting there
Steve's belly flop
Phillip's tumble turns
Fabian's tumble turns
Ducks that light up
Ducks that don't light up
Ducks that are supposed to light up!
Toothbrush that was hidden really well - still haven't found it!!
Seagull and crab
Circle of life story (after the seagull ate the crab in front of everyone)
Karaoke evening
Aleena's dance and song to music man
Daniel and Anna announcement - they are getting married
Emily with a tail - forgot she was there!
Piper's 25m relay length - what a swim
Little Dan 25m relay length - he put so much effort in
Teigan's - are you drunk question?? (no we were not!) (long story)
Sweep - (even longer story)
No one had heard of Sooty and Sweep - I must be getting old.
Chloe's 2pences
Raveall coke drink - needs to learn to budget
My virtual reality experience - OMG I really didn't mean to say that word but I didn't know the whole of the older squad swimmers had been sneaked in to watch my reaction, there was no one else there when Steve and Scott set me up - I apologise but I don't do roller coasters that go that high or drop that low that quick and fast. I know it has been recorded on some phones - do me a favour and mute it! Fortunately, the younger ones had already gone to bed.
Phil's tablets
Very well behaved young people on the coach journey
How much luggage?
Loading and unloading the coach, parking the coach
How many mesh bags with no names on?
How many pieces of equipment with no names on?
How many orange bags with no ID on?
Drinks bottles - fill them up, no names, cant find, who does this one belong to?
Phil emptying his bottle!
How many hats, scarfs and gloves did we lose?
How wet can I get when walking to and from the pool, without doing my coat up (I cant do zips at the moment)
Who does this belong to?
Raveall's bankcard
Faulty Children
Removal of mobile phones - that did the trick, how peaceful it was, and everyone ate their dinner, and no unsuitable text messages, (except for staff of course - just seen yours again Georgina!)
Cartoon network
Steve caught watching Mr Bean!
Hiding the remote control
Fabian's Hat - lost and found several times
Fantastic swimming sessions even when the tiredness crept in
Pinned to the railing by the wind
Sam's story of rocks
Fabian's Britannic story, followed by Titanic story
The walk to and from the pool - we got faster and faster as we got wetter and wetter
Shuttle runs
Cant charge my phone - do you have a spare charger? Of course, I always carry a spare one, I mean doesn't everyone carry a spare charger in addition to their own- not
Lana and Teigan shoelaces - how many times did we tie them?
Aleena's zip on her coat - I really need some fine motor skills
No money (older swimmers who spent all their money without budgeting for 3 days and then had to go without - life skill lesson learnt I think)
Hair platting - need more hair bobbles next year - now where is the red one with yellow spots. Need Orange and purple ones! - There is a challenge for someone to find them for next year.
3 x packs of 6 donuts - no wonder someone was sick!
Rock shop fun
Arcade fun - let's watch the doors so no one can disappear, for an hour and a half - they really need a bench at the entrances
Steven Seagull and his friends
Chloe's packing and unpacking and packing and unpacking
Fabian's biscuits and Lego and Lego men that eat biscuits apparently
Rock collections - easier to bring back than to leave (trust me we did try)
Shell collections - easier to bring back than to leave (trust me we did try)
Tea, toast and squash in the morning.
Rice Krispies with no milk
Pasta bake that turned out to be leak and potato pie
Steve's bacon that did not arrive
Steve's baked beans that did not arrive
Michelle's fried bread that did arrive
Heather's fried bread that did arrive
How many chips at Truckstop?
They forgot my breakfast so I ate Michelle's bread, Pam's Mushrooms, Heather's everything and Steve's half a sausage instead. Then my breakfast arrived and I was full up!
Georgina's sausages.
Georgina's chicken nuggets
Georgina's pizza
Georgina's chips
Heather's cheese x2
No Baileys - what a disappointment
Land training with tongues out
Spillages - how far does one cup of squash go? How far does one glass go? We found out!
Cuddles at bedtime
Room keys that didn't work
Room keys with no numbers on
Room keys with the wrong name/numbers on
Room keys in bottom of bags
Room keys in pockets
Cant find room key
Gave up with room keys and just left door open
Creams to be applied, what little stars as I know they would have rather been playing than having their cream applied.
Fabian swimming in pants (forgot trunks)
Big Dan towel - lack of
No cubicles
Anna with no clothes on - she was trying to find Dan a towel and forgot it was mixed changing rooms
How long can one person spend in the shower after swimming? We found out
Fabian's lack of underwear (he forgot to put them on)
Piper's lack on underwear (she forgot to put them on)
Dan and Fabian in the same cubicle - who ended up with whose trousers on? (Little Dan I better point out very quickly)
Knotted shoelaces - Oh my I nearly cut them off and brought a new pair of laces.
Hour late back on return journey
Tractors on A41.
Roadwork's on A41
That big hill
Scott's Leg
Didn't ice the foot so how are they going to re attach it. Put it in the freezer next time
Sam and Dan's grandma - Heather, Steve and Pam nearly having heart attack when this complete stranger decided to give the boys a cuddle
Hair washing - how many little heads?
Visit from Jack Thomas
Joshua's photo pose
The strip - stop there, don't go any further
Hot hotel rooms - hence the striptease - need to get someone to hold down the t shirt whilst removing the sweatshirt, otherwise you end up removing more clothes than planned.
Donation from complete stranger
Watch your laces!
Seth laughed that much that he threw up - poor lad - he was ok and ate his dinner afterwards
The difference between boys and girls - boys have beards!
Swimmers that stayed up until after 11pm- opps I lost track of time and they went very quiet hoping I had forgotten them, it worked guys!
Early mornings - everyone was up and ready on time
Rock a bye baby
Vernon and Gordon who were forced to turn around and go home due to Doris so didn't make it - brought you some rock back guys
Swimmers having free time to go to the shops
Face masks - got the photos
Can't find my: -
Sweatshirt, float, goggles, hat, watch, room key, coat, scarf, toothbrush, teddy, towel, trucks, Seth ( that was Alice who could not find him not us by the way before mum gets worried we had left him somewhere) hairbrush, toothbrush again, milk, spoon, shoes, mesh bag, swim bag, pyjamas, toothbrush again, Lego man, phone charger, phone, wallet, purse (that was me - don't ask), room key again, swim hat, one yellow fin, shampoo, bucket and spade, my special stripy rock (that had found its way back onto the beach - wonder how it did that), remote control for the TV in the day room (we hid that one, couldn't have Steve watching Mr Bean all day) , money, hair bobbles, one stripy sock, drinks bottle, leg strap, my leg, bacon, baked beans, cheese