Photo gallery: Beccles Kingfishers swimming club goes strength to strength
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A swimming club is earning a well-deserved reputation for producing top stars in competitions around East Anglia and beyond.
Beccles Kingfishers has members from five years old to veteran swimmers in the 35 to 40 year old age group.
With top coaches and a friendly family approach everyone is made to feel welcome and helped to make the most of the their abilities.
Head coach Tim Millett said: 'For those who are not familiar with the world of competitive swimming you will find it is a hardworking, dedicated sport in which athletes carry out as many hours of training as they can for a single race that may come around once a month.
'However mix that with the right club and it also becomes a way of socialising, making new friends and in the case of Beccles Kingfishers forming a swimming family.'
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Beccles Kingfishers has now been competing for over 110 years, they first took to the water as a club back In 1903 using the river Waveney as their base.
A lot has changed since then, the training has swapped from the river to pools at Bungay and Harleston along with many changes to costumes and techniques.
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It has been over the last eight years though that the club has really developed both in and out of the pool.
The develop of the club has been down to so many, from teachers and coaches to chairpersons and committee members all working in the same direction to build a great base and support structure for swimmers of the club to progress and enjoy their swimming not just for today but many years to come.
The club has now gone from a club making up the numbers at competitions to one that is battling it out with the bigger clubs and pushing for top places.
Beccles is still classed as a small club in the world of swimming, despite being able to offer around eight hours of swimming a week for its swimmers.
'We have though over the past eight years taken home many local and county honours. The club's main success has been with the county competitions,' said Mr Millett, who was named Suffolk County Coach of the Year in 2011.
Every year in March the 14 competitive clubs in Suffolk take part in the county championships. Four years ago Beccles managed to break into the top 10 and last year improved further by finishing 8th overall.
As well as this the club has won many local galas and Suffolk league competitions as well as breaking into the National Swimming League.
Away from the competitions the club has been building year on year while still keeping its family club traditions and now has in excess of 150 members on its books.
All are taught and coached by a highly qualified and experienced team of teachers and coaches. It was the likes of Brian Kirby who built the foundations of the current squads and the clubs use of certain techniques, this has been further built on by the current team of Jamie Fenn, Andy Holland, Stuart Long, Marie Fisher, Dawn Shapherdson and long serving teacher Mickey Cooke.
Behind the scenes there has been further development of the club that has brought on the success and stability.
Lesley Beevor, the club' chairman, said: 'We take a great deal of pride in the achievements of our swimmers but we are also very keen to keep our friendly family atmosphere where everone is made to feel welcome and an important part of the club.' The club is looking to improve still further and in just over a month's time, Suffolk swimming will again be descending on Ipswich pool to take part in the three weekend event of the county championships.
This year 23 Beccles swimmers will take part in individual events in hope to build on last year's success. A new look junior squad full of talented new swimmers also looks to take to the competition stage with a handful of local galas later on this year.
Away from the pool, the committee is now trying to raise £16,000 for a new timing system and equipment to bring the larger events over to Bungay pool, which in turn will bring in the extra funding that these events bring which will goes towards to future development of the club.
If you would like to know more about Beccles Swimming Club, which has members from the Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, Harleston and Loddon areas, please feel free to email email@example.com