Plymouth Swallows Gymnastic Club was founded by Mrs Daphne Leeworthy in 1970. Originally set up to run in a local school in Plymouth called Bishop Vaughan. Daphne’s daughter, Robin Leeworthy who is now Head Coach of Plymouth Swallows grew up knowing that her mother was striving to provide a much needed facility in Plymouth which would, over the years take many hours and determination to lead the club forward and make it what it is today.
The club moved from the school facility due to the school becoming ‘all boys’ and they were given only days to find an alternative and appropriate space to accommodate their ever increasing members. The local university site, Marjon, was able to offer Mrs Leeworthy the use of the facilities on their site in Derriford during 1981. At this time the club ran on a purely competitive basis and had a number of high level gymnasts as well as novice and intermediate. After a few years it was decided that Marjon would build pit facilities to benefit not only Swallows gymnasts but that of the students who also used this space during the day. It was in 1984 that a decision was taken to change the club to accommodate recreational gymnasts to provide much needed funding and more opportunity for more children. Alas, it became increasingly apparent that Marjon was allowing Swallows less and less time for normal training as the university wanted to claw back the use of such a vital facility.
A decision was taken in 1993 to move to a local factory building when Marjon wanted full use of their facility for themselves. Swallows moved here with high hopes of relocating to a brand new purpose built facility which was to be funded by Plymouth Council, in Derriford. The club had to bide it’s time for just under 2 years until the new gym was built in May 1995.
Presently Swallows is a thriving club who run classes for children of all ages and abilities. We hold 5 sessions per week for under 3’s which is an unstructured informal session where the children are accompanied by their parent/guardian. There are a further 8 classes for children aged 3-5 years which has a more structured approach which leads towards the BG badge scheme. We accommodate a large number of Gymnastics for All and competitive gymnasts. The club gives over 11 one hour sessions for this purpose and classes are made up of mixed sex groups of similar age with a coaching ratio aim of 1:7. Some of these children will progress to one and a half or two hour advanced recreational classes of which we have 6-7 groups. We also have 2 groups of slightly more advanced/able gymnasts aged 6-8 years who we class as our developmental children. These boys and girls attend training for 2 sessions of up to two hours a week. Novice level train 2 times a week, intermediate 3 times a week, regional 3 times a week and our very able gymnasts are currently training 5 to 6 times a week.
Swallows now has over 900 gymnasts training at different levels, most of them in Gymnastics for All classes, some at an intermediate level - many with a need and wish to increase their training hours. This, coupled with a very high number of children on our waiting lists (+300), has brought us to consider a further expansion, so that children can be adequately accommodated, and for larger competitions be hosted by the gym. A small group of parents are working hard to try to raise funds. If you think you are able to help – please click here to visit the fundraising section of the web-site.