Award for passionate coach who helped save and grow swimming club

THE head coach of a Tameside swimming club who helped to save it from folding and has overseen dramatic change has won a regional award. 

Denton Artistic Swimming Club, a member of the Tameside Sport and Physical Activity Network (TSPAN), was on the brink when Elizabeth Fitzgerald took the reins.

Her efforts to save the club, boost its membership and put its members on the road to success has won Elizabeth the North West Coach of the Year (Artistic Swimming) award for 2023 from the sport’s national body Swim England.

Elizabeth will now go up against other regional winners at the national awards.

Elizabeth Fitzgerald’s efforts to save the club, boost its membership and put its members on the road to success has won her the North West Coach of the Year

Her award nomination said she “worked extremely hard to restructure the club so that members have their wellbeing and welfare put at centre stage”.

It went on to say that Elizabeth has “developed an inclusive club where there is a place for everyone and the culture she has helped create has seen the club grow 30 per cent in 12 months”.

Swimmers have “benefited from Elizabeth’s new regime at the club” and her “creative mind keeps our swimmers engaged”, the club added in their case to put Elizabeth forward for the accolade.

But Elizabeth’s award is not the first.

The club was named Swim England’s National Artistic Swimming Club of the Year winners and was runner-up in the Community Club of the Year category at the annual TSPAN awards.

Elizabeth, who began her coaching career in Argentina, said: “I began coaching at Nademos Synchro Club in Buenos Aires. I worked with their novice section and also took on a very special assignment to train Down’s Syndrome swimmer, Andrea Lazzari, who went on to compete, representing Argentina, at the DSISO World Championships.

“I moved back to the UK to qualify as a level 2 artistic swimming coach and swimming teacher but ended up working as the head of development for City of Manchester aquatics swim team for five years!

“As a coach, I believe in challenging swimmers to become their best selves, to work hard and never give up. I expect swimmers to put in 100 per cent effort and to overcome their fears to achieve their goals.”

Thanks to Elizabeth’s expertise and dedication, the club enjoyed a stellar 2022-2023 season, which included sending a duet to the national age groups championships, two teams going to the combo cup and entering 22 swimmers into the regional novice competition, which saw every member come away with a medal.

Her supporters added: “Elizabeth has completed multiple continual professional development courses, attended many Swim England workshops and paid privately for qualifications to develop herself as a head coach.

“She puts so many hours into her role and takes her mentoring of new assistant coaches, and young volunteers seriously to ensure they have the skills to maintain our nurturing environment.”

Originally known as synchronised swimming, which became an Olympic discipline at Los Angeles in 1984, artistic swimming is a hybrid of swimming, dance and gymnastics, where swimmers perform routines to music.

In competition, swimmers demonstrate their strength, flexibility, and aerobic endurance by performing complex and elaborate routines in front of a panel of judges who use strict guidelines to score the performances, looking at artistic impression and technical merit.

Andy Dwyer, Active Tameside’s Head of Sport and Physical Activity, commented: “The club has grown dramatically over the past two years and Elizabeth has played a big part in this through her coaching and passion for the sport.

“We are proud of her achievement and look forward to supporting the club in the future with their ongoing developments.”

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