WHAT started out as an online physical training session designed exclusively for young members of Kaizen Swim Club in Jamaica has now grown into an international forum for young swimmers to connect, train, motivate and inspire each other during the global covid19 pandemic.
This unique initiative is the brainchild of strength and conditioning specialist Dr Dialo-Rudolph Brown and Kaizen Swim Club coach, Rory Alvaranga. However, it was not their intention for these Zoom sessions to go viral and become a weekly training staple for several up-and-coming swimmers.
Originally, the online segments were created by the pair to encourage Kaizen swimmers to keep fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle during the downtime. A selfless Alvaranga then extended an invitation to coaches throughout the Caribbean and other territories to join in and share their virtual training sessions.
These online conferences now feature motivational speeches from more experienced athletes and nutritionists, partnered with its customary physical exercises and other indoor training techniques courtesy Brown and Alvaranga. Classes have now increased to two sessions per week (Wednesday and Saturday) with a third scheduled to be implemented soon.
With much-anticipated regional youth meets such as the CARIFTA Swimming Championships, Goodwill Games and Central American and Caribbean Swimming Championships now cancelled to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the young swimmers are becoming restless.
On May 2, TT’s Olympic hopeful Cherelle Thompson was invited to speak to the budding swimmers on coping with their respective country’s stay at home restrictions brought on by coronavirus. TT Olympian Dylan Carter was also scheduled to address the group on Wednesday’s afternoon session.
Thompson splashed to several medals at the CARIFTA Games in her younger years and was pleased to play a part in assisting young swimmers to stay focused and adapt to their constantly changing environment.
“We are going through uncharted waters," said Thompson. "All of us who would have set off from the shore towards our goals, this covid19 came as a storm that is lasting really long. I suggested to the kids that we realign ourselves, adapt and keep moving forward, both from a practical and spiritual perspective. Knowing whether or not you can trust what’s guiding you, assessing where you’re at in getting to your goals and who is navigating your course.”
Thompson, who is the national women’s 50-metre freestyle record holder (25.39 seconds), said adaptation to these uncontrollable changes is pivotal. She admitted innovative sessions such as these play integral roles in assisting young swimmers to remain focused on their athletic aspirations.
“We must keep moving forward despite the challenges and use this as an opportunity to grow and exceed our limitations as to what type of pressure we can handle as athletes,” she added.
Additionally, the TT swimmer believes these multi-athlete video conferences also aid in building camaraderie among regional and other global athletes. She insists the additional level of pressure or any animosity between countries may also be dissipated because of these unified sessions, instilling friendly rivalry against fierce competition.
On Tuesday, Alvaranga expressed pleasure with the abundance of support and gratitude received regarding the virtual training. He agreed the addition of Thompson and Carter brought a welcome addition to the cast.
“We started with 37 swimmers and counted 67 participants during Cherelle’s session recently,” he stated. “I just opened it up to everybody and it was a huge success. With everyone being at home, working out alone can be boring especially for children. We plan to include a sport psychologist in the near future as well. I had to keep my swimmers active but I also had to share what we were doing for overall betterment of the sport.”