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COVID-19: Concerns over children’s mental health

Swimming | Published:

ISLAND swimming coach Nathan Jégou admits his prime concern is the mental well-being of his young charges after it was confirmed that Calligo Tigers will cease all training in the pool from Friday.

Teenager Robbie Jones was among those due to travel to the British Championships and Olympic trials in April. However, Island swimmers will be unable to enter the pool for training purposes from Friday onwards Picture: ROB CURRIE

Furthermore, all meets and galas scheduled from now until the end of May have been cancelled.

The decision was made at a meeting with club officials and the committee on Tuesday night prior to the Government of Jersey confirming that schools will close from next Monday until at least the end of the Easter break. Jégou (left) confirmed Tigers will continue to monitor the situation in line with directives from the States. For now though, concerns turn to the effects a more isolated existence will have on children deprived of key social interactions among their peers.

‘It’s a worrying time for all involved,’ said Jégou.

‘All schools and sports clubs are shut so we need to prioritise the mental health of our children who are losing the direct contact they have with their friends and those who have exams coming up.

‘We’re going to try to encourage workouts at home and give our swimmers daily challenges, go for a ride, go for run. That way they can release some endorphins.’

Meanwhile, reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic have also undermined the progress of some of top Jersey’s swimmers. The British Swimming Championships that Robbie Jones, Thomas Deffains and Isaac Dodds were due to compete at next month has been cancelled – an event due to double-up as Olympic trials.

In America, Commonwealth Games swimmer Harry Shalamon’s US collegiate career has come to a premature end after the NCAA II Championships he was competing in was abandoned on day two. Shalamon, in his senior year at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, had finished third in the men’s preliminary 200-metre individual medley last week with many more sessions to look forward to. Instead, it is now looking likely to be Shalamon’s last-ever race for his college before graduating later this year. Gemma Atherley, also in her senior year at George Washington University in DC, had been lining-up for long-course events this spring too but has now seen these cancelled.

With the British Olympic qualifiers now postponed but with the IOC controversially looking to press ahead with the Games in Tokyo this summer, Jégou confirmed the selection policy is under review.

‘It may be that selection is judged on past performances or current rankings,’ he said. ‘We don’t know any more than that right now but it’s a real blow to our athletes who were having the season of their lives.

‘Coming back is really hard after being out for a long period of time. We don’t know what shape they will be in when everything resumes. It can be challenging mentally rather than physically too.’

Paul Lees

By Paul Lees
Sports reporter

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