sccSUNDERLAND’S BEACON Programme for young swimming talent has won national praise.

The programme, which has been running for two years, has received the Performance Programme of the Year award from the Amateur Swimming Association.

These awards go to programmes that have developed one or more swimmers who have gone onto national competitions.

Programme swimmers use the Sunderland Aquatic Centre for their training sessions because it is the only 50m pool between Leeds and Edinburgh.

Councillor John Kelly, the City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellness and Culture, said: “The Beacon programme is a good example of how people have been brought together from across our city and region. And, they’ve benefited from the first-class facilities that we have here at the Sunderland Aquatic Centre.

“Well done to all the swimmers and the trainers who are keeping Great Britain and Team England at the front of swimming competitions.”

Within the Northumberland, Durham and Sunderland Beacon Programme there are 72 swimmers from 14 clubs across the area. As well as competing at the British National Championships and ASA Age Group Championships, athletes within the programme this year have represented Great Britain and Team England.

They have collected medals at: European Games in Baku, the Youth Commonwealth Games in Soma, the European Youth Olympic Festival in Georgia, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) European Swimming Championships in Eindhoven and the European Junior Swimming Championships in the Netherlands.

The programme has been recognised for its innovative thinking and collaborative working between clubs and coaches within the county and has been held up as the model programme throughout England.

The award was presented to Fred Kirby, the Sunderland Beacon Programme Manager.

Fred Kirby, the Sunderland Beacon Programme Manager collected the award at a ceremony in Leamington Spa on Saturday 14 November 2015.

He was joined by Sunderland Beacon coach Paul Woodley (Derwentside ASC) and Beacon athlete Rachael Wilson (Derwentside ASC).

Mr Kirby said: “On behalf of the Northumberland and Durham Swimming Association (NDSA) Sunderland Beacon programme, I am extremely happy to have received the ASA award for the Performance Programme of the Year.

“As with most successful projects there are many people who are involved working as a team on a day to day basis to provide this success. I would like to thank Sunderland City Council, Sunderland Aquatics Centre staff, the NDSA coaches forum, and the NDSA management board for their tremendous support.

“The day to day running of the programme by coaches Danny Thompson (City of Sunderland ), Ryan Livingstone (Newcastle Swim Team) Paul Woodley (Derwentside ASC), Chris Leighton (Borough of Stockton Swim Scheme), has been exceptional with many hours of their free time spent ensuring that the programme runs professionally and efficiently.

“Many thanks also go to Sarah Small, North East Regional Development Officer, and Linda Tjaguns, secretary at the ASA North Regional office for their tremendous administrative backup.”

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