Hadleigh Community Primary School

Jackie Kirk – Teacher

Jackie Kirk is a teacher at Hadleigh Community Primary School and used to coach at Hadleigh Swimming Club. She was first introduced to the Great East Swim because her son used to do a lot of outdoor swimming and he took part in the schools programme at the Great East Swim one year.

She saw how much he loved it and she thought that the kids at her school would love it too.

So she approached her head teacher and he agreed.

Jackie goes about recruiting year 6 pupils by asking all of them that can swim the required distance if they would like to be involved.
She sends a letter to the parents and asks them to come back to her with a yes or no. She has found that many of the children that want to take part are in swim schools already.

The children are then given the training programme with Suffolk Norse – one indoor and one outdoor familiarisation session as well as the normal schools swimming programme.

She has also taken some children to Tri-Farm in Essex, the triathlon training facility, for an extra experience.

Jackie was worried about the cost of the wetsuit being a barrier, but a lot of the parents find them in charity shops so they are not too expensive.

Jackie said, “At the Great East Swim event, the children do a short version around the edge of the lake and they absolutely love it. Lots of parents come and watch and bring a picnic and it’s a fabulous experience for them.”

She continued, “Everything is done so well at the event and the children are made such a fuss of. The kayakers go round with them and the safety aspect of things is amazing.

From the schools perspective Jackie says, “It’s really not onerous at all, and I’m able to administer it quite easily.”

They have often found that the siblings of the year 6 children that have taken part are inspired to do it, and word of mouth around the school spreads quickly about how much fun it is.

The children do get nervous at such a big event and they have to be encouraged, but once they get in and complete it, they are exhilarated and they love it.

One of the parents, Janinie Edgar said,
“As a parent, I was very impressed as to how well organised it was. We had never attended the swim before. We loved the friendly atmosphere, helped by the singing and the great leaders that did the warm up before each wave. I was relieved to see the number of people in canoes keeping an eye on the swimmers. My son really loved the end of the swim where there was a lot of fuss made of all the swimmers. He is keen to take part again next year. “

Isabelle Shuttlewood, a pupil at the school said,
“I did it because I wanted to do something fun and different, and to challenge myself. I thought it was amazing, because we had many training sessions, so when we went we were very confident and prepared. Plus it was great fun. I would encourage people to do it because it was fun and you wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to swim outdoors.”

Another pupil, Gracie Cullum said,
“ I did the Great East Swim because I enjoy swimming and I wanted to try something new.
My teacher thought I might enjoy the challenge. It was great fun.

And pupil Kitty Hambling said,
“My experience of the Great East Swim was spectacular. I wanted to have the same opportunity that my brothers had, who also took part. When I entered the lake it was cold but then I got used to it. I would recommend others to do the Great East Swim as it was a wonderful and fantastic experience.”

Headteacher of Hadleigh Community Primary School, Mr Pilkington said,
“As a school we encourage all our children to do a variety of sports, keeping fit and healthy is important. Encouraging the children to participate in outdoor activities like the Great East Swim teaches them water safety in a controlled environment. As well as the enjoyment of the event, it’s also well organised and the children and their families have a lovely day (weather permitting!) sampling the Farmers Market and having picnics, whilst watching the other events on the day. Many of our children go on to swim the following year, and challenge themselves to further distances once they are 12 years old.”

About the Great East Swim 2018 Suffolk Norse Schools Programme
Coordinated by Suffolk Norse and supported by Suffolk County Council and the Great Run Company, Suffolk primary schools and their pupils are invited to take part in a series of swimming events and activities associated with the event, which culminates with participation in the Great East Swim.

In the weeks leading up to the main event schools are encouraged to swim the 4-minute challenge within their local swim lessons, which simulates swimming in open water. 73 schools and 2,620 pupils took part in the 4 minute challenge in 2018, swimming a total of 292,705 meters. The local events conclude with a county gala where 10 schools compete against each other with each pupils distance swum calculated to give a total school distance, for which certificates are awarded.

Olympic Silver medallist and two time world 10km open water swimming champion Keri-Anne Payne attended the gala to present certificates and deliver a swimming masterclass for the pupils.
22 primary schools and 50 pupils took part in the Great East Swim schools wave on the 23rd June each swimming 250m in open water. All participants had the opportunity to attend 2 training sessions, including one open water session, prior to taking on the open water challenge to prepare them for the challenge on the day.

Many of the pupils who take part in the Great East Swim Suffolk Norse schools event are inspired to return the following year to take part in the 1⁄2 mile event.

If you would like more detail on how your school could participate in the Great East Swim Suffolk Norse schools programme please contact Suffolk Norse School swimming service at schoolswimming@suffolknorse.co.uk or Tel: 01473 341503

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