If you’re a fan of swimming, the chances are you’ll have heard of Oswestry Otters. The swimming club started by Eunice Price back in October 1976, celebrated its 40th birthday last year and is still going strong.
With 65 competitive swimmers, everything is going swimmingly for the club which trains five nights per week at various locations, including Oswestry Leisure Centre, Oswestry School and Moreton Hall.
It’s a competitive swimming club, with swimmers travelling all over the country to compete in team events and individual open meets at the weekends. The Otters have had several successful swimmers who have gone on to compete at national level including Stuart Manford, who competed for Wales in the 2006 Commonwealth Games and current swimmers, 21-year-old Dan Jones and his brother, 16-year-old Morgan.
Dan who joined the Otters aged just eight years old, won Shropshire’s top swimmer for his age group 10 years in succession and now trains full time with the Welsh National Squad in Swansea with the aim of qualifying for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Morgan won the Outstanding Achievement Award at the recent Oswestry Sports Forum Awards for a season that saw him win a host of gold medals at Regional and Welsh National Championships. He has been rewarded further by being selected to attend a training camp, with the prospect of representing Wales in the Youth Commonwealth Games.
President Doreen Leggatt has been involved with the Otters since the start and says “we are a friendly club that aims to develop the swimming skills of children of all ages, allowing them to progress through to swimming at a competitive level. Although the training schedule can be intense as swimmers develop, success in this sport is achieved through hard work and dedication.”
The club is run by a team of volunteers made up of qualified coaches, teaching swimmers from the age of eight upwards. Many parents, give up their time to volunteer to support the swimmers, in various ways and have organised several successful events such as club competitions and presentation evenings. The club has also organised two very successful five-day training camps in Cyprus in 2014 and 2016, which hugely benefitted the young swimmers.
To be an Otter, swimmers must demonstrate a good swimming ability at their trial, meeting a minimum required standard. The club is broken down into four ability groups, with intermediate and advanced groups training for two hours every night. The coaching programme is tailored to the schedule of galas throughout the year.
“Pool Hire is our biggest expenditure,” says Doreen, “the club gets very little outside funding and finds it difficult to attract sponsorship. The club do endeavour to organise regular fundraising events to help fund the running of the club.
“Being a part of the Otters is a great thing for children, they get a lot out of it, aside from the health benefits, it gives them a chance to make friends and be part of a team.”
What does the future hold for Oswestry Otters?
“We’d like to encourage more swimmers to join, to be able to develop the club further,” adds Doreen, “we’d like to be able to provide more frequent and longer training sessions and our aspiration is to operate from a single base at the heart of the community in Oswestry.”
If you are interested in joining or providing sponsorship, please get in touch on 07971 646559, or complete the form on the ‘contact us’ section of the website: www.oswestryotters.org.uk