A Different Perspective

Free Style SC came into existence in 2009 and was born of frustration with what was seen as an overly prescriptive, elitist-driven approach dominating the competitive sport in Scotland. The raison d'ĂȘtre for so many clubs appears to be simply to help provide a base for a production pyramid, the apex of which is designed to offer up future Commonwealth and Olympic champions. Finding and developing that next generation of champions is consistently given priority over swimming for its own sake and the inherent individual benefits of so doing. As a result, for most youngsters the opportunity to learn how to sprint is denied them: the 50m race is relegated to a delayed importance that means that most children actually leave the sport before they ever get a proper chance to really find out how to swim fast over short distances and to experience the thrill that comes with that. The fact that children, and indeed people of any age, can be taught how to sprint is beyond doubt: even prepubertal youngsters can make significant progress thereby challenging the stifling mythology that still surrounds anaerobic immaturity. Sprinting is a neuro-muscular activity and in some ways the sooner a sprinting apprenticeship begins, the better.

So at Free Style we sprint, and that is what we do. And we do it in a context of harmony, democracy, and social education. The fact that like so many other worthwhile activities, swimming can be used as a vehicle towards achieving other desirable ends is intentionally emphasised within the club, as indeed is a balance between competing demands in young people's lives.