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Paralympic Camp with Bream Bay

Paralympic swimmers joined forces with Bream Bay Swimming Club members at a training camp last week in Dargaville to give some young Para swimmers a glimpse of future possibilities.

Swimming New Zealand National Para Swimming Development Coordinator - world record holder, and gold medallist swimmer, and Wheel Blacks player - Cameron Leslie had organised a training camp with coach Simon Mayne in Rotorua. But when the Rotorua pool closed, Leslie decided to shift the 10-day camp north to his home region. He needed pace swimmers to work with him and fellow Para swimmers Jesse Reynolds and Nia Wallace, and asked Bream Bay Swimming Club if they would be able to help for a couple of sessions.

The first joint session followed the Northland Secondary School Swimming Championships day in Dargaville. “It was an eye-opener for our swimmers,” says Bream Bay parent Dawn Dutton. “The boys did keep up; with Jesse, but they had to rotate as each one got tired. It definitely brought them down to earth a bit.”

The second session, two days later, was led by both Simon Mayne and Bream Bay coach Richard Dunkerton. Bream Bay committee member Sharon Carroll, also Parafed Northland’s Active Recreation and Community Sports coordinator, seized the chance for her young Para swimmers to experience top-level swimming.

She brought six para swimmers over from Whangarei to Dargaville to first watch the Paralympians in action with the Bream Bay swimmers, then have a taste of swimming in a 50m pool for themselves with their own coaches.

The Northland para swimmers train each week at the Whangarei pool, coached by Bream Bay A squad swimmers who have undergone coaching training – Carroll’s daughter Kiera, along with Samantha Dutton and Emma Dutton. A fourth coach, former Bream Bay swimmer Rebecca Reade has just begun studies at Otago University so was unable to continue coaching with Parafed Northland. But she has since received an opportunity to continue coaching Para swimmers in Dunedin, which Carroll says is a huge win for inclusive sport.

The Northland Parafed swimming development programme only got under way in Term 4 of last year thanks to funding through Kiwi Sport, Ray White and support from CLM Whangarei. The programme is almost fully funded, which is amazing, says Carroll. She says the swimmers have made massive progress in the few months they have been in the water, and it was great for them to meet and talk to the Paralympians and Bream Bay swimmers.

After the training session the whole group enjoyed a shared breakfast. “They talked about training but it wasn’t all about swimming,” says Carroll. “They just hung out and had some really good banter.”

“Now if they ever do go along to a swimming competition, they’ll have that connection with Bream Bay Swim Club,” she says. “And it was a great opportunity for them to see Para swimmers performing at that high level, to see how they train and to have a chance to meet and connect with them.”

Para cmap with Bream Bay