TALENTED youngsters from a volunteer-run club in Cirencester arrived home with a bounty of medals after an array of nail-biting races at a prestigious competition. 

The 2024 season got off to a strong start for Cirencester Swimming Club at the recent Gloucester County ASA Swimming Championships.

Swimmers kitted out in the the club's red uniform scooped up 25 gold medals, 10 silver medals and 16 bronze medals, across three weekends of racing throughout January and February.

More than 20 first-time Cirencester swimmers qualified for the County Championships this year including Rylan Smith, Ruby Crouch, Sam Relph, Francesca Paddock, Tilly Perkins, Georgia Hollowood, Arthur Downe, Erin Handoll, Gabriel Hope, Abi Cunningham, Sophia Hewitt, Noah Taylor, Ellis Bowen, Isla Wright, James Bray, Tristan Claridge, Toby Conway, Elliot Fountain, Poppy Graham, Oscar Harris, Georgie Hills and Ethan Huckin. 

Cirencester Swimming Club is run entirely by volunteers and the entire coaching team give up their time to inspire the next generation of swimmers. 

The club’s home is Freedom Leisure Cirencester, where the swimmers train for up to nine hours each week at the 25-metre pool, with additional weekly training at CrossFit Cirencester. 

Outside of membership fees, the main funding for the club is raised through its annual sponsored swim event, which this year paid for the purchase of specialist underwater headsets so that coaches can easily communicate with the younger Dolphin squad (up to age 12) whilst they are in the water.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Cirencester Swimming Club's younger Dolphins squadCirencester Swimming Club's younger Dolphins squad (Image: Cirencester Swimming Club)

Cathy Maggs, lead coach for the youngest swimmers, said: “These headsets have really made a difference for us to be able to adjust and improve technique in real-time.” 

Mike Kempster and Beccy Stenson, lead coaches of the older Phoenix swimmers, added: “We may be a small club, but it’s good to have big dreams.

"We have swimmers each year who not only qualify for county and South West regional racing, but even for the national competitions across England, Scotland and Wales.” 

One of the club’s recent veterans Alex Cohoon, aged 21, is one of 54 swimmers who have been invited on to British Swimming’s World Class Programme for the 2023-2024 season, ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.