How City of Sheffield Diving Club stayed engaged during pandemic

City of Sheffield Diving Club and Halifax Swimming Club are being hailed for their dedication after receiving nominations at the Swim England National Awards 2021.

Ponds Forge was closed for a long period of time during the pandemic.

Nominated for the National Engagement Innovation Award, City of Sheffield Diving spent lockdown engaging not only their own members but divers across the world.

The club, which is run from Ponds Forge Sports International Centre, Sheffield, was forced to close after Sheffield City Trust opted not to re-open the centre back in July 2020.

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Ponds Forge’s closure was a worrying call not only to club members but also for the standard of its facilities as one of the few international-size swimming pools in England and being home to the deepest diving pool in Europe.

Ponds Forge International Pool, home of City of Sheffield Diving Club

Now, with the competition pools back open, diving manager and coach, Nikki Smith, 38, is honoured that the club is being recognised for their engagement during a tough year out of the pool.

“Diving as a sport is quite small so we have a lot of connections around the world and we felt like we were doing something positive, and we wanted to share this with everyone and help whoever we could,” said Smith, who was the driving force behind the campaign.

The club, which boasts a large number of Olympians, engaged athletes from Australia, New York and Germany, in their vast array of programmes which included social media challenges, mental health workshops, workouts by elite divers and a Q&A with world high diving champion, Gary Hunt.

“No one knew what to do in Covid and I think we spearheaded engagement,” added Smith, who began her diving career with City of Sheffield, aged eight.

“Sheffield Diving stands out because we showed resilience and creativity through the many challenges we faced.”

David Culf, 47, of Halifax Swimming Club, has also been nominated for the Swim England National Inspirational Volunteer Award.

Due to the pandemic, the club was left without a place to train as Halifax Swimming Pool was closed indefinitely due to financial difficulties.

A parent of three young swimmers, Culf stepped forward to take the role of ‘Covid Lead’ and worked to ensure a safe return to water, his measures later adopted by Calderdale Council and spread throughout the district.

The role also increased when Culf was tasked with finding a new home for the club, finding swimming times at Heathfield School, Rishworth.

“I never expected to be nominated at all, I took the role to keep the swimming club going otherwise we would have folded,” commented Culf.

“It was nice to get the recognition from the club but then to take it one step further is just great.”

The awards ceremony will be live streamed on the Swim England Facebook page on Saturday, October 9.