Rising Stars

Meet Lewis Bithell our latest ‘Rising Star’

by Editor

Irising stars Lewis Bithelln the latest of our series focusing on the swimming stars of the future – we feature ten-year-old Lewis Bithell from Mickleover who learnt to swim at Lonsdale Pool and has recently joined Derby Phoenix swimming club.

Lewis was first introduced to swimming by his parents when he was six-months-old and took to it straight away.
He started lessons at Lonsdale Pool when he was four-years-old and this put him on the radar of Derby Phoenix who invited him for a trial.

Lewis is currently a member of D squad and with his sights set on moving up to C squad in the very near future.

He said: “I love swimming.  It keeps you active but it is also very relaxing.  I enjoy the galas which are competitive but also friendly with a nice family atmosphere.

“My goal is obviously to get into A squad where there are some amazing swimmers and then – who knows.”

Dad Simon added: “Lewis is thoroughly enjoying swimming with Derby Phoenix but none of this would have been possible without the solid grounding that he gained by learning the right techniques with the teaching staff at Lonsdale Pool.
“We are supporting him all the way but I also think it is important to keep other sports in the frame and Lewis is also a good footballer, cricketer and basketball player.”

It’s a family affair for the Elliott’s at Lonsdale and Gayton Pools

by Editor

Elliott-familyInfant school teacher Sian Elliott had such good memories of learning to swim at Gayton Pool that she made sure that her three children followed suit when they were old enough to start lessons.

Sian, who teaches at Carlyle Infant School, was taught to swim by Lynda Mangnall, who is now the pool manager. She and her team have since taught Sian’s three children – Karis, Teja and Josiah.

Sian said: “I can remember Lynda teaching me to swim and I progressed through the stages before becoming a helper when I was about 15.

“I signed my eldest Karis up as soon as Gayton was re-built and she was in one of the first groups there before she moved to Lonsdale.  She is now at stage nine and I hope that she carries on and takes up swimming as a sport.

“My second daughter Teja started when she was three and is doing really well and my youngest Josiah started at Lonsdale recently and has taken to it really quickly.”

Sian continued that she was keen for all three children to be confident swimmers.

“Swimming is a great life skill.  It is obviously important that they are safe in the water but learning to swim properly also means that they can enjoy the pool on holiday and it really helps with self confidence on all sorts of levels.

“The standard of teaching at both Gayton and Lonsdale pools is brilliant.  Lynda in particular is a fantastic teacher.  Her firm encouragement really gets results and I hope that all of my children carry on with swimming as it keeps them active and fit.”

Meet Our Rising Star Liz Simpson

by Editor

rising stars liz simpsonLonsdale swimming teacher Liz Simpson is proof that age is no barrier to success in the pool and continues to be a rising star on the Masters competition circuit.

Qualified accountant Liz has swum competitively since she was seven and started teaching eight years ago to fit in better with family life.

She continues to compete in Masters competitions and, more recently, in local competitions alongside her ten-year-old son Arron who is also a budding swimmer.

Last year she achieved her lifetime best times in the 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly races at the European Masters Championships in London and came fifth overall in the 160 years-plus (combined age) medley relay with her team from Long Eaton Swimming Club.

Liz then went onto beat these times at the national championships in October and is currently training for the World Championships in Hungary this August when she hopes to do even better.

Liz explained: “I have always swum competitively and it is great that I am getting similar times to those I did in my Twenties when I was training day in and day out – showing that age is no barrier in this sport.

“In fact, you get stronger with age and far more aware of important aspects such as good nutrition so I think I have many more years to go before I put away the goggles!

“I love teaching as much as competing – particularly the older children who are starting to train for competitions themselves.

“This is a fantastic sport and I feel privileged to be part of it in and out of the pool.”

Meet the latest swimmer in our Rising Stars series – Tillie Wadsworth

by Editor

Tillie WadsworthLearning to swim in the correct way is the key to progessing in the sport, according to the Wadsworth family who are full of praise for the teaching staff at Gayton and Lonsdale pools.

Tillie (11) started swimming at an early age at Gayton and then Lonsdale and then, when she was nine her teacher Lynn suggested that she progress onto Derby Phoenix Swimming Club.

Tillie quickly progressed through the ranks and is currently a member of B Squad and represents the club in competitions with particular successes in front crawl.

Tillie trains five hours a week with another one a week of land training.

She said: “I love swimming and always look forward to training.  It would be great to get all the way to the Olympics but for now I am just enjoying entering into competitions and I am pleased with how it is going.”

Mum Rachel added: “Swimming is great for physical and mental fitness and is a great release for Tillie to cope with the stress of school work.

“I would recommend the swimming lessons at Gayton and Lonsdale.   They are well structured and the teachers are excellent – that’s why there is a waiting list but it is well worth the wait.”

Meet the latest swimmer in our Rising Stars series – Steffi Toolan

by Editor

rising-stars-steffi-toolanAlthough twelve-year-old Steffi Toolan was a relatively late starter to swimming, she is now going great guns in the B Squad of Derby Phoenix Swimming Club.

Steffi started swimming lessons at Gayton Pool when she was five.  She progressed quickly and was spotted by the Derby Phoenix coaches whilst swimming at Lonsdale Pool.

Mum Kerry explained: “I was not sure how Steffi would enjoy squad training but she really blossomed and enjoyed the sessions.

“The teaching staff at Gayton and Lonsdale are brilliant and it was clear from the start that she had learnt the strokes properly so progressing into the club was not too difficult a task.

“Swimming has really helped to boost Steffi’s confidence and she has made so many new friends from outside school.

“Everybody is very encouraging and swimming encourages us all to get into a good routine.

“It is a big commitment – especially with three younger children – but as long as Steffi enjoys it – we are happy to support her.”

Steffi said: “I like how there are so many different strokes to learn.  You can be really good at one thing but you always need to improve on others.

“I was nervous when I was first entered for galas but now I really enjoy it and it’s good to challenge yourself.”

Meet The Coppen Family

by Rachel Aylott

The Coppen Family - Rising Stars at LonsdaleIn the second of a series of profiles on young swimmers – we feature the Coppen family who are all members of Derby Phoenix swimming club – training at Lonsdale Pool.

Parents Andy and Joanne Coppen originally introduced their children to swimming to ensure they had the necessary skills to keep them safe in the water. Their children Ella (14), Imogen (10) and Quinn (8) have taken to the sport so well however that they now train several times at week with Derby Phoenix swimming club and represent the club on the competition circuit.

Ella started swimming when she was six and, since joining Derby Phoenix,  has gone from strength to strength.  She is now in the A squad – regularly picking up county and Midlands’ breaststroke medals.

Both Imogen and Quinn started swimming when they were four and are now in Derby Phoenix’s C squad.  Imogen started in D squad when she was seven and, after having lessons at Lonsdale Pool, Quinn became the youngest swimmer to join D squad at the age of six.

All three love swimming and have their sights set on greater things in the sport – inspired by the success of Team GB at the Rio Olympics. Ella said: “There is always something new to aim for with personal bests and, above all, it is great fun.  I would love to try to get to the 2024 Olympics but I know it will take a lot of hard work.”

Imogen agreed: “Swimming keeps you fit and you can learn different techniques to get better and better.”

And Quinn concluded: “I like that it is competitive but I have a lot of friends so it is good fun.”

Joanne said: “We have embraced swimming as a family and, as well as supporting the children, are involved in Derby Phoenix with coaching and welfare roles.”

Andy continued: “The club has a great atmosphere with the older ones supporting the younger swimming.  As well as being competitive, everyone gets on really well and there is a good social scene.

“Swimming has given us so much as a family, we are now just hoping that Lonsdale are able to find a site to build a bigger pool in this area so that there is more capacity for training and hopefully encourage more families to get involved in swimming.”

Meet Abbie Tunnicliffe

by Rachel Aylott

Abbie Tunnicliffe - Rising Stars at LonsdaleThere are many opportunities for talented young swimmers to develop their skills through the coaching programme run by clubs across the county and many of the young people who initially learnt to swim at Lonsdale and Gayton pools have now progressed to a wide range of clubs.

These include eight-year-old Abbie Tunnicliffe who is now a member of Long Eaton Swimming Club having completed the various grades at Lonsdale Pool.

Abbie’s mum Helen explained: “We were keen that Abbie should learn to swim and she started when she was three-years-old at Lonsdale. At the first lesson, Abbie cried for the first 20 minutes but her teacher Lynn was brilliant and encouraged her to join in. She has never looked back since and swam her first length when she was four.

“Having progressed through all the different stages, the Coach for Derby Phoenix Swimming Club spotted Abbie one day and thought she was strong enough for squad level. We went along to watch Derby Phoenix train and Abbie loved what she saw.   We however decided that a club closer to home would be our best option and joined Long Eaton.

“The great thing about swimming is that there is a clear pathway to develop youngsters and plenty of opportunities for them to progress and compete if they want to.

“Swimming also teaches good discipline and it has built up Abbie’s confidence and strength immensely.

“Most importantly, she loves it and, although it is big time commitment, as long as she is happy and committed, then we are keen to support her. Learning to swim at Lonsdale has opened so many doors for Abbie and who knows what she will progress onto.”

Meet Daniel James

by Editor

daniel-james-1In the first of a series of profiles on young swimmers – we feature Daniel James (15).

Daniel first started coming to Lonsdale Pool when he joined Derby Phoenix Swimming Club at the age of nine and he now swims for the A squad.

Swimming is more than a sporting pastime for the young man – it also helps greatly to build up his core strength and counter balance his mild curvature of the spine which was diagnosed when he was ten-years-old.

This determination to push himself has also led Daniel achieve distinction in the Royal Life Saving Society’s award scheme and become a teaching assistant at Gayton Spool.

He has also put his skills to good use – tackling open water swimming challenges across the UK to raise more than £2,200 for Dementia UK in memory of his late grandfather.

Out of the pool, Daniel is an accomplished musician – playing the flute with City of Derby Youth Orchestra and Derby Music Centre and piano in the school’s main band.

The Littleover Community School pupil has achieved the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award and has his sights set on a career in medicine.

Daniel said: “I have gained so much from swimming that I wanted to put something back into the sport and I thoroughly enjoy teaching.

“Swimming as part of a club is very social sport and it is great that there is always something new to learn.

“Whatever I do in life – I will always enjoy swimming.”

President of Derby Phoenix, Douglas Whitlam MBE said: “Daniel has always been a very conscientious, polite young man who has wholeheartedly supported Derby Phoenix swimming club and is a fine example of what hard work can result in.”


Lonsdale Swimming Pool, 41 Bishop Lonsdale Way, Mickleover, Derby, DE3 9DF

01332 516325 [email protected]

Lonsdale Swimming Pool is operated by Lonsdale Swimming and Sports Trading Limited a Company Limited by Guarantee No. 8630924, associated Company of Lonsdale Swimming and Sports Trust Limited a Company limited by Guarantee No. 5871671. reg. Charity no. 1120352. Registered Office of both: Sterne House, Lodge Lane, Derby, DE1 3WD