Swimmer Of the Year Award

Shirley Swimming Pool are delighted to announce that Ashley Christopher has been named as the pool’s swimmer of the year, and is to be nominated also for a national award.

The Southampton swimmer only picked up the sport again five years ago, having not swam regularly since his school days.

Training at Shirley Pool, and through the winter at Bournemouth beach for two years, Ashley racked up mile after mile in his quest to swim the English Channel

On August 1st, armed just with swimming trunks, goggles and some vaseline, Ashley’s brave Channel attempt launched from Dover at dawn, after an overnight drive from Southampton.

The swim didn’t start well,

“I always hate the first two hours of any big swim as I’m getting into my stride and getting used to the sea conditions and temperature. I was also feeling sick from the milkshake I’d had at 3am, I never feel sick normally and in my head I was thinking ‘Why the hell am I doing this?’ ” said Ashley.

“You can feel quite vulnerable swimming in the sea when you can’t see the bottom and wonder what’s down there. Any creepy thoughts you have, must be pushed out of your mind. I often just close my eyes when my face is down in the water and only look when I breathe. This was when I got my first jellyfish sting on the arm which felt a little worse than a nettle sting”

“It wasn’t long after the first that I felt the second sting across my face.” Ashley added.

“I think it was when I was ten hours in, when the crew said you’re three miles from the Cap Griz Nez, I was feeling good so I decided to up the stroke rate slightly. It was sometime after that, that my shoulder started to twinge”

The support boat fed some painkillers hidden in a banana, but they didn’t have the desired effect,

“The pain which started in my shoulder was now working its way down my arm. I wasn’t able to put any power through it and I became more reliant on my right arm. The worry of how long will each arm keep moving and the fear of failure dawned on me.”

Ashely’s dream swim was now turning into a nightmare.

“The pain was now shooting down my arm from my shoulder to my wrist with every stroke. I had to run through all the reasons why I am doing this”

“I tried mentally pushing the pain of my shoulder out of my head but it just didn’t work. I kept drifting away from the boat for some reason. I think I was just losing concentration due to the pain and fatigue.”

“At last I felt my hand touch the [sea] bottom and I stood up and walked up the beach, stretching my arms above my head, shouting. It was brutal, far beyond all my expectations.”

The successful solo crossing of the channel was completed in a staggering 13 hours and 40 minutes and  raised £3500 for a Southampton charity.

As well as completing the channel swim, Ashley found time to help many other swimmers from Shirley Pool make the tough transition to sea swimming.

Several had only learnt to swim recently as adults so had a steep learning curve. His inspiration has led to a team of swimmers entering a cross channel relay in 2019.

Every Sunday morning Ashley can be found at the beach offering encouragement and hot chocolate to budding open water enthusiasts.

For his dedication and determination but also for his consideration and generosity, Ashley Christopher has been named Shirley Pool Swimmer of the Year 2017. Star swimmer.

If you would like to learn more about the story, you can read the full report here – Ashley Channel Swim 2017 JT

Or you can read the story from the man himself. – Ashley Channel Swim Story Final

You can also view an interview with our star swimmer here.

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Star Swimmer Verity

Shirley Junior schoolgirl, Verity Telford started swimming at Shirley Pool when she was just 3 years old.

Now nine years old and a member of the Dolphins Swim Academy, Verity is an accomplished swimmer. Having learned all the strokes and worked up to her Gold award Verity completed her 2,000m badge in February 2015. This year Verity set out to beat this personal record and on our February crash course set herself the goal of the 4,000m  award.

Amazingly, Verity strolled through the 160 length challenge in just 1 hour 50 minutes.

At the same time as doing this marathon swim Verity completed her Honors award.

Verity is our newest star swimmer!


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Star Swimmer Delilah

Little Delilah Wadsworth (6) had a few lessons at a school-based swim school in Southampton, but her parents knew that it didn’t hold a light to the lessons they had left behind in their native London borough.

Delilah had been a member of the Swimming Nature School, a hugely successful operation with 4000 weekly students in London. After a 5 day crash course at Shirley Pool in October half term, Delilah was able to progress from her previous highest swimming award of 50m to achieve her 1 mile badge. Her delighted mum said “This swim school is very similar to Swimming Nature in its approach to teaching swimming; I am really pleased with Delilah’s progress.”

Shirley Pool Managing Director David Perry replies “I take that as a huge compliment. I have long been an admirer of Swimming Nature, one of my lads worked for Swimming Nature in his student days and we have a mutual ethos in teaching swimming. Delilah’s success is because she has the correct body position which makes learning the Frontcrawl breathing easier.”

Delilah NOV

Delilah is a star swimmer!

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Filip Fraczek-Krygier, Star Swimmer

Star Swimmer Filip,

Shirley Pool swimmer Filip Fraczek-Krygier was the Dolphins star of the County Championships, crowned Hampshire Champion in five events.

His outstanding times earned him TOP Twentyranking in England Filip dominated the freestyle events producing his best performance in the 200m FS final. Leading from the front Filip blew the opposition away swimming in the first 100m in 1.15.70. In an exciting race and spurred on by teams mates and the crowd, Filip held off the challenge from Guernsey swimmer, Luke Winstanley to secure the victory swimming the last 50m’s 4 seconds quicker than the heats.

His time ranks Filip in the top 20 in the Country in his age group. Filip also secured Regional Qualifying Times with his 200m FS, 200m BK and 200m IM (3.02.83) times.

filip-star-swimmerFilip began learning to swim at Shirley in 2007, aged 4, quickly learning the strokes and showed promise as he dominated his first Club Championships. Since joining the Elite Top Squad with coach Chris White, Filip has excelled.

Filip’s Championship times: 400m FS 5.43.16, 200m FS 2.34.86, 50m FS 32.76, 200m BK 2.57.45 and 50m BF 38.16.

Southampton Dolphins Swimming Club entered the Hampshire County Championships in March for the third time since the Club re registered as an ASA Affiliated Team under the leadership of coach Chris White.

The squad showed great improvement on the previous two years. The Dolphins had a record number of entries 26 swimmers qualified in 145 individual events with 10 swimmers achieving full BAGCAT’s in the age group category (9-14yrs).

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 12.39.21The Dolphins also made 9 individual finals and both the boys and girls 9-12 year age group relay teams made the finals of the freestyle and medley events.
Head Coach Chris White said:

“I’m delighted with the swimmers performances they have all done so well, all my swimmers have achieved personal bests and the clubs results continue to improve year on year. We have two swimmers who have achieved regional BAGCAT’s and many swimmers close to regional times which has exceeded my expectations after only three years of competing. Credit must go to the swimmers who have put the effort in during training and to parents who bring them.”

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Eva Mayer, Star Swimmer

Eva Mayer, Star Swimmer

eva-mayerHi, my name is Eva. I was nine years, eight weeks and two days old when I dived into my local pool to start my 12-week charity Channel Swim on September 10th 2012.

The challenge is to swim the distance of the English Channel (22 miles) over 12 weeks. I will need to swim 1,416 lengths in total to achieve this, that’s nearly 120 lengths every single week for three months.

I’ve been looking forward to this all summer because I LOVE swimming, because I would like to swim the real English Channel one day (as long as there aren’t too many jelly fish!), and because I want to raise as much money as possible for the Aspire charity to help improve the lives of people with spinal injuries.

As well as swimming, I also like tap dancing, sailing, writing stories, all kinds of art, strawberries, peaches, milkshakes, and giggling uncontrollably. My favourite colours are red and rainbow.

I first started splashing about in the water regularly when I was a baby. By the time I was a toddler I could swim underwater, Mum says there was no stopping me after that. It took a few years of lessons to master all four of the swimming strokes: front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly.

Just after my sixth birthday I swam my first continuous mile. A few months later I swam 2000 metres (a mile and a half). Last year I started preparing for competition swimming and now train at least three or four times a week. I swim for my school team too. I have a good coach and lots of energy but sometimes he can wear me out! Afterwards my favourite thing to do is just stand under the shower with the warm water pouring over my head for quite a long time!

One of my swimming heroes is Rebecca Adlington. Mum took me to the London Olympics this year to watch the swimming finals. When I walked into the Aquatics Centre I was speechless. The fifty-metre pool looked HUGE. The lights were so bright. There were flags and cameras everywhere and thousands of people sitting in rows of seats that stretched back and back, right up to the ceiling.

When the swimmers were ready to dive in and the microphone man said: “On your marks…” I could imagine just how they felt – excited and nervous, wanting it to be the best swim ever. Once they were in the water the crowds SCREAMED so loud it hurt my ears. I saw Michael Phelps become the most decorated Olympian ever. When it was all over it was dark outside. Mum’s voice and mine sounded croaky from cheering so much.

One day, I would like to swim in the Olympics. Whatever happens, I will never stop swimming because I love it so much. The water is like my second home. As soon as I dive in I smile, I feel happy and free, like I’m really ME.

Thanks for taking the time to visit my Aspire Channel Swim page. You can see my regular updates at my JustGiving page

You can donate quickly and safely through JustGiving by clicking the ‘donate’ button.

So please, please, please, dig deep and donate now. Thanks a lot! Eva x

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