Champion swimmer's stroke of genius

CHAMPION swimmer Darcy Harper has come up with a brilliant idea to ensure she can keep training throughout lockdown.

The 14-year-old Ripon Grammar School student, from outside Bedale, who has competed in national championships with her school swimming team, got the idea of using a bungee cord linked to a pool from one of her mother’s work colleagues.

“We bought a four-and-a-half metre pool, which was hard to get as they had almost sold out – we got the last one!”

Boarding student Darcy, who has qualified for Irish national championships as well as winning third and fourth place in county and Ulster championships, has been swimming in her rigged-up pool most days of the week, initially in a wetsuit until she can buy a heater to warm up the water.

“It has been great for me to train in and help strengthen my ankle after a netball injury,” she says.

Swimming competitively from the age of nine, she has also been running and cycling to stay fit in lockdown and her ambition is to qualify for regional swimming championships: “That would help me get the RGS sports tie.”

As well as being a member of the RGS swim team, Darcy plays hockey, rounders and is a member of the athletics club. Before lockdown, she did swimming training on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and on Friday and Sunday mornings.

She’s very competitive, she explains: “I love the feeling of when you've built up so much adrenaline and you can let it all out in a race. I also just love being in water and for me swimming is a way to get rid of stress you may have gathered over the week and it’s a great community too. Even if I stop competing, I will never give up swimming.”