Sailfin Swimming Club
(Swimming for People with Disabilities)
Affiliated to Halliwick Association of Swimming Therapy
Reg. Charity no. 250008
Sailfin was formed in 1976 by a group of able-bodied people at the Sale Swimming Baths; their primary objective was to encourage swimming by the less able. Some of the original members are still associated with the Club and visit from time to time. One of our earlier swimmers has now been made a life member of the club, having represented the club at local, regional, national and international levels winning many medals.
The Club depends entirely on volunteers and is affiliated to the Association of Swimming Therapy (AST) through Regional Area 8. We use a teaching/handling method devised in 1949 by James McMillan, the founder of AST. This method requires each "swimmer" (someone with a disability who is unable to swim independently) to be allocated to a "helper" who gives assistance in the water using well-tried and tested principles. Fun and enjoyment is the weekly theme of all our meetings.
Sailfin helpers provide support and stimulating advice, in a safe water environment, to those who are challenged physically, visually, hearing or have learning difficulties. The age of each person is irrelevant provided the applicant for membership obtains their own Doctor’s approval to taking part in water activities.
Over the past years our membership has been over 100 consistently. About 60 members attend our swimming sessions between 10.30 a.m. and 1 p.m. each Sunday morning. Some tend to visit fortnightly rather than weekly - thus allowing our "safe water regime" to be maintained. Half the pool time each Sunday is devoted to organised activities - such as coaching and timed swimming, aquafit, Halliwick training, proficiency training and testing. The members regularly express their appreciation at having the benefit of improved freedom of movement given by the supporting water. We are fortunate in that Trafford Local Authority Leisure Services support our venture by providing the pool with a water temperature suitable to our members needs.
We have a number of extremely competent swimmers who take part in competitive swimming. Apart from Club Galas we host a Sale Festival Gala each year, which allows other ASTRA 8 Clubs to enjoy inter-club competition under AST Competition Rules. The basic ruling affords each swimmer an equal chance regardless of ability by using a system of handicapping based on the swimmer’s best-recorded time over the race distance. Keeping accurate records of a swimmer’s performance by the Club Coach means that at most sessions a period is devoted to this task. Over past years the results achieved by our swimmers at the AST Regional, National and International Galas regional has given encouragement to all the less able to try for a place in our swimming team.
Swimming is not the only activity undertaken by the Club. Our Social Committee provides a vibrant social side throughout the year. At each session members can obtain biscuits and hot or cold drinks from the Club "Tea Room" directly adjoining the pool. This facility also provides a chance for all members to engage in social chat, which is considered to be a valuable part of Club life. Throughout the year the Committee also organise day and half-day trips to places of interest. Each month we distribute a "Newsletter" to ensure that all are aware of forthcoming events and the varied subjects aired by members (also provided on tape for those unable to read).
Club members also actively take part in local events such as the Trafford Wheelchair Marathon, the Sale Lions Fete and Swimathon, thereby raising funds for the Club by obtaining sponsorship for their personal efforts. Many members attend these events as supporters or officials to give enthusiastic encouragement to those of our members taking part.