Albatross Diving Club marked its 40th anniversary on 23rd February 2019 with a night of awards and celebration. The evening united Readings’ diving heritage with its hopes for the future as it recognised contributions to the sport and outstanding performances from its divers across its history. Reference was made to the opportunities that new facilities will present when they open in the coming 3 years but speeches mainly reflected the achievements of this entirely voluntary run club in progressing divers from the Reading area to the National and International stage. The evening truly was a heartfelt celebration of everything that we love about this exciting sport!
Anne Green-Jessel Albatross Founder and Club President
Receiving her 40th Anniversary Commemorative Award from Olympic Diving Gold Medalist Chris Mears
It was fitting that the guest of honour was Chris Mears, Reading’s Olympic diving gold medalist from Rio 2016 who started his diving career with Albatross. Special recognition was given to Anne Green Jessel whose vision for diving in Reading started the club back in 1968 as part of Reading Swimming Club and then Albatross, a stand alone entity, from 1978. in tribute to her lifetime achievements Anne received a spontaneous standing ovation from the room of 120 adults and children. Anne was later presented with the Albatross 40th Anniversary Commemorative award in recognition of her drive and vision in founding Albatross Diving Club 40 years ago and as tribute to the positive difference she has made to so many young people who have dived with Albatross since then.
As part of the evening Albatross was proud to recognise the achievements of its current divers over the 2017/18 competition season. Awards cover all attributes we look for in our divers such as: excellence in competition; dedication to training; team support and bravery when learning new skills. There are also awards recognising the contributions of our committee members and coaches. The evening is a celebration of all our achievements; winners of specific awards, which were kindly presented by Olympic Champion and Senior Mens Team GB diver Chris Mears, are listed here:
MOST IMPROVED BOY ON LEARN TO DIVE PROGRAMME – George Dollery
The Learn to Dive (LTD) coaching team speak of George’s excellent positive attitude to training; he listens and is able to make changes. George has mastered dives in all directions from the 1m training board. This is a huge achievement and gives a solid foundation for future progression.
MOST IMPROVED GIRL ON LEARN TO DIVE PROGRAMME – Siri Bowerman
Siri was unable to join us for the awards evening. She was commended by the LTD team for her attitude and progress and the coaching team believe Siri will build on her achievements to date and advance quickly in the coming year.
Special commendation was also made to Holly Lane Sellers. Holly has fully embraced the sport of diving and has shown great focus and determination in completing tasks in diving for her GCSE in Physical Education.
BEST BOY NEWCOMER – Joe Foster
Joe has a fantastic attitude and has worked extremely hard in his training. He listens and is prepared to make changes and try new skills. His hard work paid off when he won gold at the 2019 Gavin Brown Diving Competition in Southampton.
Commendation goes to Alexandre Mihalcuic
BEST GIRL NEWCOMER – Lydia Palmer-Rios
Lydia was voted most improved girl on the Learn to Dive Programme last year. Lydia has built on this success, going from strength to strength learning and perfecting the skills required for the forthcoming National Skills qualifiers.
Commendation goes to Daisy Thompson
Harry Healey was commended by the coaching team at last years awards for his performance at National Skills 2017 where he placed 4th in boys C and was the highest scoring Albatross diver from groups D & C. Harry has had an excellent diving year (17/18) with PB’s and good placings in competition. Harry also shone at the Club Training Weekend which was held in January in Southend. Harry rose to the challenges of this weekend, developing new skills and competing a strong set of required dives alongside age group and elite club team mates.
Shortlisted Aiden Jones . Aiden left Albatross at the end of the 2018 competition season to focus on Water Polo. He ended his diving career on a high by winning a well-deserved bronze medal at National Skills 2018 in Manchester
SUPPORTIVE DIVER AWARD – Elisabeth Cullen
This award is given to a diver the coaching team feels displays a supportive attitude during training or competition. This year the coaching team gave this award to Elisabeth Cullen. Elisabeth is hugely supportive despite the challenge of juggling her commitment to dive training with revision for school exams and multiple music commitments. Elisabeth was especially supportive to younger team members during the 2018 Aachen trip which, for many divers, was their first experience of a multi-day international event.
SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS IN ADVANCED DIVING – Maya Peche
Maya was recognised by the coaching team for her significant improvement and competition success during the 2018 season. Maya made her debut at National Age Groups in 2018 and also attended her first Junior International in Aachen. With consistent PBs throughout the competition season Maya consistently impresses coaches with her focus and quiet determination. Maya works extremely hard to better herself in training; she listens well, makes changes and is extremely brave. Maya is a committed diver and a pleasure to coach.
Shortlisted: Molly Lefever, Hernan Mosquedo-Jolly and Quinn Shaw
TEAM SPIRIT AWARD – Charlotte West
Charlotte epitomises the spirit that is Albatross and the coaching team saw her as a worthy winner of this years award. Team spirit is something that is visible across all the diving clubs. It is demonstrated at the smaller one day competitions and large multi-day events. Although divers compete individually the support they receive from their team mates is essential, and every diver takes great pride in representing their own club. Charlotte works hard to be involved in all aspects of the sport. She is actively involved in SEEDS and this, along with her participation in the National Sports Apprenticeship Scheme and participation in many competitions at home and overseas, has enabled her to build friendships with divers from many different clubs. As a diver, assistant coach and young judge Charlotte consistently shows support to her teammates, other divers and the sport.
Olly Breach is always ready for the next diving challenge. Despite not being able to commit as many hours to training as his peers due to school commitments Olly makes sure that all the training he does do is highly effective. Olly has a tremendous work ethic and quiet self confidence which he uses to great effect when approaching new skills and when taking to the boards in competition. His hard work has paid off; Olly won gold on platform at National Age Groups 2018 and will compete at his first Junior Elite Competition next year.
YOUTH COACH DEVELOPMENT AWARD – Edward Beal and Charlotte West
Edward Beal and Charlotte West, are two young divers who gained their assistant coaching certificates as soon as they turned sixteen. During 2018 both have been fully committed to coaching their own groups of young aspiring divers on the learn to dive program.
Albatross recognises the importance of encouraging young divers to develop leadership skills and to take on responsibilities within the club. Both Charlotte and Edward have risen to the challenge, inspiring their divers and building self-confidence in their squads. They are both highly valued members of the junior coaching team.
MARY KINGHORN AWARD FOR COACHING – Malcolm Green
The Mary Kinghorn coach award is voted for by all squad divers and awarded to the coach they feel has helped and supported them with their diving. This year the award deservedly went to Albatross Lead coach Malcolm Green. 2017/18 was a hugely successful year for Albatross with medals won at all levels of National Competition. Although the divers bring their talent and dedication this success could not be achieved without the continued expertise and support of a dedicated coaching team. Malcolm plays a key role in this team; not only was he the personal coach of many of the aforementioned National Champions he also contributes to the success of other coaches and divers through his quiet, but wholly committed, leadership and support.
The award is given annually but the coach receiving it in one year cannot receive it in the next. The 2017 winner was Nicki Allsop.
THE KEITH MEEK TROPHY – Emma West
Emma was recognised by members of the committee for her extensive work on behalf of the club and divers. Emma has worked tirelessly over many years to ensure Albatross divers are afforded the best opportunities in terms of training provision. This has been through securing grants and financial support, lobbying for the “new pool” and positive promotion of the club through extensive networking and active involvement in SEEDS, Swim England and other diving bodies such as ESSA. Many of the training opportunities enjoyed by Albatross divers simply would not have been available were it not for Emma’s committed and persistent hard work behind the scenes.
Emma is also a committed chaperone; attends a myriad of competitions each year and also finds time to help maintain the social aspect of the club by overseeing the arrangements for many fun events which have been enjoyed by so many.
During 2018 Emma was instrumental in overseeing a seamless transition to new training venues following the closure of Central Pool. Emma built links with new venues such as The Abbey School and Rivermead Leisure Centre and worked extremely hard to ensure that the very best facilities (new boards and a complete new dry gym) were acquired to meet the needs of Albatross divers.
Runner Up was Brian Shaw who was recognised for his work as SwimMark Co-ordinator. Maintaining SwimMark accreditation is a time-consuming task that is largely invisible to most club members. Brian has worked tirelessly in this administrative capacity for several years and his contribution is invaluable. SwimMark is absolutely essential; a kite mark which shows that Albatross is a professional club that maintains the highest standards in both its administration and training provision. Having SwimMark has enabled Albatross to apply for grants reaching £10,000 which have in part funded the new drylands facilities at Rivermead, the 1m additional platform at The abbey and subsidies for pool hire and competition attendance at home and abroad.
OTHER NOMINEES for this award included:
- Sheila Kirrane recognising her contribution to the club over many years, most recently as coach and Club Treasurer. Sheila also represents family values; something at the very heart of Albatross.
- Nicki Allsop for continued work to develop and maintain the web site and its content to become the modern streamlined window to the club we see online
- Marnie Shaw, specifically, for her work to support divers in gymnastic skills and for her ongoing work at competitions as a diving judge
Chris Barker Shield – James West
The 2018 award was awarded to James West. Following his exceptional achievement of winning 1m gold at Junior elites in 2017 James followed this by winning a bronze in the same event in 2018! James always works extremely hard in training and this has resulted in PBs and medals throughout the 2018 competition season. An integral member of the club James is known to coaches and divers alike for his never-failing knowledge of the FINA tariff tables and his willingness to help other divers build their skills and confidence. This award is well-deserved and testimony to James’ talent, dedication and the work of his coach Malcolm Green.
The Presidents Cup is awarded by the coaching team to a diver in recognition of overall excellence and achievement. It recognises the diver who the coaching team feel has shown the best all round dedication and attitude towards their diving during that season. In the 40th year it was fitting that this award was presented by the club President Anne Green-Jessel and Olympian Chris Mears.
The winner in 2018 was Ethan Jones. Ethan had a fantastic year culminating in winning medals on all boards at National Age Groups. Ethan was champion on 3m and won silver medals on 1m and platform. Ethan also dived with teammate Quinn Shaw to take the championship gold in the synchronised 3m diving event. Following his UK success Ethan also triumphed in Junior International competition. Ethan travelled to Barcelona where he won gold in boys B platform and a silver medal on 3m. Ethan has now gained the qualifying points for Junior Elites and will compete in that event later this year!