Swimming at Millfield Prep School is completely unique. Lead by ex-Olympic Swimmer and former Millfield pupil, Helen Gouldby, the programme focuses on the individual development of each child. With world-class facilities at their fingertips, including a 25m pool on site and Olympic-sized 50m pool at Millfield School, daily swim training available, flexi-boarding to suit early morning training sessions and timetables tailored to each individual child, there could be no better place prepared to discover and nurture the brilliance in future swimmers.
The swimming programme at Millfield Prep has bred multiple success stories, with Prep swimmers going on to compete in the world’s most prestigious sporting competitions. James Guy, Olympic Silver Medallist and Commonwealth Gold Medallist, said “My passion for swimming and my swimming career really started at Millfield Prep, so I am extremely grateful for the professional coaching environment that I was a part of. It really laid the foundations for my future career and it is such an amazing place to have started that journey.” Fellow Olympic athlete and Commonwealth Games Silver Medallist, Cameron Kurle said, “Millfield Prep was an amazing start point for my swimming journey, which became something truly magical as I progressed up the school”.
Training sessions can take place up to six days a week, before or after school, with the qualified coaches delivering a programme focused on developing the technical, tactical, psychological and physical aspects of each swimmer, in line with Swim England’s Optimal Athlete Development Framework model. This individualised approach allows the pupils to progress at their own rate, while developing their all-round athletic ability.
“The training at Millfield Prep is great because it is so varied, and the coaches are extremely good with technique analysis” says Year 8 swimmer, Adam. “I particularly enjoy sets in the pool, where I can push myself to the limit. This means that I know when I come up to a competition, I know I can push myself further and harder. I have been lucky enough to be selected for Inter Essa-Division as well as Inter County-Division and English Nationals. It really builds my confidence, getting to meet people from all over the country, who are the best at what they do.”
Coach Arthur Lawlor leads the swimmers in Athletic Development sessions twice a week. “Athletic Development is a key part of supporting Millfield Prep swimmers, and sessions focus on fundamental movement patterns in a fun and challenging environment. The aim of the sessions is to further develop the all-round athleticism of pupils, whilst educating them”, Coach Lawlor explains. Year 7 boarder Eva says, “I love the aerobic sessions as, along with pointers on technique, you get a really good feeling after you come out of the pool!” On top of the Athletic Development sessions, swimmers have time before each swim session to work through land-based movements, to prepare them for the session ahead and develop their movement competency. The Athletic Development Programme at Millfield Prep coincides with the framework at the Senior School, with coaches working within the England Talent Pathway.
All coaches at Millfield Prep are involved within the England Talent Pathway at county, regional and national level, with the Millfield School Director of Swimming, Euan Dale, being selected to coach at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“I have a unique perspective on the Millfield Prep Swimming programme”, explains Millfield’s Director of Swimming, ex-Olympian Euan Dale. “I attended Millfield and was coached by Helen Gouldby, the Director of Swimming at Millfield Prep School: I have been lucky enough to start my Olympic swimming journey being coached by Helen, and now to work alongside her as a swimming coach. Millfield Prep swimmers come to use the 50 metre Olympic pool daily and regularly participate in competitions here, which allows the Senior staff to get to know the swimmers, allowing for a seamless transition into the Millfield Senior programme, when they move up in Year 9.”
A high level of importance is placed upon ensuring that swimmers have a well-rounded schedule. “Millfield Prep has the individual development of each pupil at the heart of the programme. Each swimmer has an individual programme that enables them to participate in a number of sports on offer at the school, whilst maintaining their swimming training and full academic timetable”, says Coach Arthur Lawlor. Indeed, busy pupils can not only swim every day (if they wish to) but are encouraged to take part in a range of sports and co-curricular activities, alongside their academic studies. Timetables are balanced for each individual pupil, and key sports staff sit on the weekly Pastoral Committee, which ensures that all Millfield Prep pupils are striking the right balance in their academic, sport and co-curricular activities.
“I train 6 days a week in the pool at Millfield Prep, so swimming is a big part of my week but I also really enjoy other sports including cross country and middle distance running, athletics and pentathlon competitions”, says Year 7 pupil Annabelle. “Away from sport, I love music and dance. I play the Oboe and am an active member of the Senior and Chamber choirs. I also attend a ballet school once a week.”
Francesca is in Year 8 and is a full-time boarder at the school. “The coaches at Millfield Prep are very flexible and make sure I’m not being overwhelmed by my busy schedule”, she says. Pupils with early training sessions find that boarding at the school makes it easy to balance their academics and swim training, as well as the added convenience of being on-site ready for early morning swimming sessions. “I find that being a boarding pupil enables me to be able to do all then activities I would like to and complete my academics to a high standard” Francesca says. “Before going to Millfield Prep, I struggled balancing my schedule, but now with the help of supportive coaches and houseparents, plus all the facilities being on site, I am much more organised.”
Interested in swimming at Millfield Prep School? Why not come along to the next Open Day, where you can meet our coaches and teachers and explore our facilities and boarding houses. Book our next Open Day here.
To watch a video from Director of Swimming Helen Gouldby, talking about the Swimming Programme and answering Frequently Asked Questions, click here.