SWIMMERS at a Torfaen club are celebrating both in and out of the pool after a successful couple of years have seen Torfaen Dolphins rise to one of the top clubs in Wales.

Torfaen Dolphins were established in 2012, as two local clubs, Torfaen Swim Squad and Pontypool Dolphins, merged.

As little as two years ago, the club were ranked 11th in the performance rankings, but a successful two years has seen them rise to third - behind only Cardiff and Swansea.

And in October, the club were named ‘Club of the Year 2019’ by Swim Wales.

Head coach Ian Rosser explained how the club were set up to support its top-level swimmers.

He said: “We have about seven different squads all moving up to the elite performance squad, but we try to cater for all abilities.

“We’ve got close to 200 members and work with Torfaen Leisure Trust who feed swimmers from lessons in to club swimming.

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(Torfaen Dolphins swimmers who competed in the British Nationals)

“As part of the coaching staff, we have a number of ex-Wales internationals. Their expertise brings people into the programme.

“There are a number of us who coach alongside the Welsh setup as well. We get to learn a lot of higher-level coaching skills and can bring that back to the club.

“That’s important to help us all improve.”

Treasurer Frances Newton said: “We were ranked 11th in the performance rankings two years ago, and now we are third.

“It’s been a phenomenal change in terms of quality of performers coming through.

“We have put an infrastructure in place to develop their skills. That system is in place and then we keep tweaking it to help our swimmers reach their optimum performance levels.

“One of the main things behind our success is the work of our volunteers and the coaches and the parents.”

In the recent Area Swimming League, which features almost 400 teams and more than 16,000 swimmers from across England and Wales, the club finished seventh in the premier final of the western division – with Cardiff and Swansea the only Welsh clubs to finish higher.

“That was big for us,” said Mr Rosser. “Not only to qualify for the premiership, but to finish seventh in our region with only two Welsh clubs above us.”

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(Torfaen Dolphins swimmers Alex Rosser, Dylan Broom, Seren Leconte, and Meghan Willis.)

The club have a number of high-achieving swimmers.

Dylan Broom has been selected for the UK Sport World Class Podium Potential (WCPP) programme, and Alex Rosser competed in the Men’s S14 200m Freestyle Final in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

The pair also both competed at the British Championships in August 2019.

Dylan Williams competed in the Downs Syndrome European Open Swimming Championships in Southampton in April 2019, winning gold medals in the 100m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke and 25m Butterfly.

Youngsters Seren Leconte and Meghan Willis – who is also a water safety ambassador – are both in the British para swimming academy, while seven members of the squad are on the Welsh Swimming Programme.

The club trains swimmers for triathlons, with Dafyd Jay securing his place in Tier One for the under 20s Triathlon Super series, and Alyssa Baker being selected to represent Wales in the British Triathlon Youth and Junior Super Series.

Everyone at the club was quick to praise the work of volunteers in helping their rise up the rankings, and in securing the ‘Club of the Year’ title.

Ms Newton said: “[Swim Wales] also mentioned our volunteers.

“In 2016, we had 30 volunteers, and now we have more than 80.

“We couldn’t achieve what we have done without them. It’s everything, from coaching to taking squash around after races.”

“The award [Swim Wales Club of the Year 2019] is a reflection of not just in the coaching staff but all the people behind the scenes,” said Mr Rosser. “We couldn’t be where we are – a small club holding its own – without them.”

“We are like a family,” added chairman Paul McRae. “There is no one person who is bigger than the club.

“It’s a team effort to bring it all together.”