Hackney Aquatics Club’s new head coach is keen to make a splash

Hackney Aquatics Club swimmers in good spirits poolside

Hackney Aquatics Club swimmers in good spirits poolside - Credit: Archant

He has been in the job for barely a month, but new Hackney Aquatics Club head coach Rick Hall has described his short time in the role as a whirlwind experience already.

Hall arrived at the Clissold Park club with pedigree having enjoyed five successful years in Dubai as an assistant coach at Hamilton Aquatics, where he guided his team to the top of the medals table in Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) Nationals.

The 27-year-old had a big impact in the Middle East having seen his squad of swimmers bloom from a size of 200 to more than 700, the biggest expat swimming club in the world. While squad size at the Hackney Aquatics Club suggests a return to humble beginnings, Hall has lofty ambitions for the future of swimming in the borough.

“Hackney stood out to me as a club that can move forward quickly,” Hall told the Gazette. “I’m excited by the prospect of coaching this team as I see a lot of potential.

“In the short time that I’ve been here, we’ve already managed to set up dry-land training [routines by the side of the pool].

“We’ve brought in a gym circuit once a week, ‘prehabilitation’ classes and there’s even yoga being run by one of the parents.

“These are all things the club hasn’t had before.”

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Hall, who lives in Tottenham Hale, will also be welcoming a third member of the coaching staff in October as he looks to expand on a positive start to his new surroundings.

Hall has wasted no time in implementing changes at HAC, with squad names now ranging from A to C, and he hopes this will simplify the picture to plot a pathway through the club.

“The main focus of the club is on competitive swimming, so it’s important that members can set themselves targets,” he added.

“We have our first competition of the season coming up this weekend in Basildon and we’re keen to do well.

“We will be part of what’s known as the Arena League, in which clubs compete with one another on a regional basis.

“At the moment, we are in the bottom of three divisions, but it is my goal to reach the top division as soon as possible. We’ve got an action plan and structure in place, but in the short term that most important thing is for all our members to have access to more pool time, more dry-land training, and other provisions such as physiotherapy.”

Hall, who is originally from Preston, began his journey as a head coach in Blackburn, and he says he is well aware of the importance associated with building a strong community that sees swimming not only as a vital skill but as one the community can collectively embrace.

“Of course, I am determined to reach milestones, but it is equally important to me for us to branch out into Hackney,” Hall added.

“I’m desperate for the club to reach out to the local community to bring in more swimmers, and not just those in affluent areas.

“I’m keen to work with the local authority and GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited) to help those who perhaps haven’t been able to swim on a regular basis due to rising costs, bringing them into the Hackney Aquatics programme.

“I’m keen on building a team spirit here that will make people want to be a part of our club, and we’ve already been making inroads in this regard.

“We had a great turn out at a ‘picnic in the park’ social, and the ‘duel in the pool’ [where the A and B squads competed against each other] was very well received.”

If you are interested in becoming a member of Hackney Aquatics club, visit http://www.hackneyaquaticsclub.org/