At YCIS Pudong, students are always encouraged to participate in different sports, and Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs), and many CCAs offer students the chance to utilise valuable life skills in a fun and competitive context. One such activity is the Swimming CCA. Students from YCIS Pudong have been participating in the Swimming programme for the last three school years, and, over this time, the programme has gone from strength to strength. As this is a competitive swimming programme, not swimming lessons, the focus extends well beyond the pool.
According to YCIS Pudong Athletics Director Mr Matt Uffindall, the progress of the programme is going swimmingly: “We now have a model that works nicely, and we have the coaches in place who are vital. We are producing a set of guidelines for the next academic year, which includes key details on how students can progress from squad to squad, athlete preparation including what the students should have in their kit bags, as well as what they should be doing out of the pool, including ‘dry-side’ training (gym work and cardiovascular exercise).”
One of the main reasons for the programme’s success is the excellent coaches who support it. YCIS Pudong has formed a key partnership with MultiSport, whose Head of Swimming, Coach Anton, has brought his competitive swimming experience to help our students. Coach Anton swam at the national level, representing Ukraine on the world stage. “Coach Anton has been wonderful this year. He knows what it takes to get to the top, as he has swum at four world championships. Coach Alex, his colleague, is also doing a great job!” said Mr Uffindall. “We have a fantastic relationship with the coaches. Any team sport is only as good as the people behind the scenes, and our coaches make such a significant difference,” he added.
One of the goals of the Swimming programme is the pathway to elite performance, which involves thinking about what can be done outside of the pool to build up overall strength, specific muscle groups, and cardiovascular endurance. The PE department and coaches are considering these factors so that students will have more personalised training programmes. Furthermore, the exposure to competition is going up, as the number of tournaments YCIS Pudong attends is increasing, as is the quality of the championships. The students now attend five Shanghai Swim League meets, dual meets between YCIS and other local schools (primarily aimed at the White Squad), as well as the ACAMIS competition, which YCIS Pudong students just attended for the first time. There is also the possibility of doing overseas meets in the future. Next year, the ‘Shanghai Cup’ competition will introduce a competitive friendly annual event between YCIS Pudong and YCIS Puxi.
The care and dedication to the Swimming programme have already started to show results. At the recent ACAMIS tournament in Suzhou, Year 6 student Kaan finished fourth overall in his age group out of 72 swimmers in total, which was an exceptional result. Considering this was the first time YCIS Pudong entered, this was a promising performance by all. Taking part in such competitions is valuable for students and helps them to develop a range of skills, both mental and physical. Analysing and listening to the experiences of elite performers can also aid students in getting into the competitive mindset.
It isn’t every day that students can go home from school and say an Olympian taught them, but before the Qing Ming holiday, students from YCIS Pudong were able to do just that. British swimmer Mr James Goddard visited Century Park Campus to participate in a fun but practical PE class with Year 6 students, where he emphasised the value of teamwork, planning, and organisation in several tasks, including crossing a ‘’lake of lava” on mats. Afterwards, he joined the Sports Science IB group to discuss elite sports performance. Mr Goddard represented Great Britain at the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympic games, as well as winning multiple gold and bronze medals in the Commonwealth Games for 200m backstroke and 200m individual medley. The students heard personal anecdotes about competing in these elite competitions, and some lucky students even got to try on Mr Goddard’s official Team GB London 2012 Olympics jacket and his Commonwealth medals. Overall, this was a fantastic experience for the students to gain a personal insight into what it takes to perform at the highest level of elite sports in some of the most watched games on the planet.
All of these in and out of pool experiences are shaping the students and, according to Mr Uffindall, the foundations are in place for a bright future for the YCIS Pudong Swimming programme: “We’re at a point now where we’re starting to see the dividends. We are developing a routine now where we know the meets, the standards, and the qualities needed to succeed. We are engaging with the parents, and we can see the programme going from strength to strength. We intend to keep consolidating on the good stuff and keep building on it, as with all of our sports programmes.”