A Structured Competitive Swim Program for All-Round Student Athletes

【Interview with David Pool, Head Coach of Hong Kong Island Stingrays Swim Club】

Based at the Hong Kong International School (HKIS), Hong Kong Island Stingrays is a coach-run swim club and a parent-owned organization. The swim club embraces all levels of swimmers, offering a comprehensive swim program for multiple age groups and skill levels. “Our structured competitive swim program caters for all swimmers. No matter whether you are at the Learn to Swim stages or you are seeking opportunities to compete at the highest level, Stingrays welcomes you to join!” says David, Head Coach of Hong Kong Island Stingrays.

Originally from the United Kingdom, David himself was a competitive swimmer. He first started coaching at the age of 16, when he was still at school. During his time at university studying Sport Development, he became a swimming development officer for a local governing authority in Scotland whilst continuing to coach. “Comparing the nature of the two jobs, I found myself enjoying being a swim coach more than doing the actual administration work of sport” says David. His journey as a swim coach continued to take him to different places around the world, including Australia, Canada and Hong Kong. “I had the opportunity to move to Hong Kong because of my wife. Before joining Stingrays, I worked at Harry Wright International as the Head of Performance Development. During that period of time, I coached Geoffrey Cheah, who represented Hong Kong in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. That has been one of the biggest accomplishments so far in my coaching career.”

As a swim coach, David is also dedicated to helping every one of his students on their personal journey. “The Olympic Games of course is the pinnacle to every athlete. But to me, helping the young 10 year-olds to master their breaststroke techniques and get them up to standard is just as important as the accolade of the Olympic Games” says David.

With numerous swimming clubs in Hong Kong, David agrees that swimming is definitely one of the most popular after-school activities amongst children in Hong Kong. “In terms of size, our club is not very big; we have about 200 athletes, but this makes us a very close family. In terms of facilities, we have probably the best facilities on-site with the 25-metre swimming pool at Hong Kong International School.”

Hong Kong Island Stingrays’ comprehensive swim program starts from the Learn to Swim levels (the youngest swimmers are 3-year-olds), and goes all the way up to competitive levels. Every level has its own objectives and goals for swimmers, allowing them to develop the fundamental techniques and skills in the main swimming strokes. David indicates that everybody is welcome to join Hong Kong Island Stingrays, regardless of their previous experience with swimming. “Our swim program is a structured one, leading students from the beginning Learn to Swim levels to the competitive squad program. Students are allocated to specific groups depending on their age and ability levels. We also provide students a clear pathway of progression for both competitive and non-competitive swimmers.”

As students develop or would like to challenge themselves, they are encouraged to join the squad program in which Stingrays coaching staff offer instructional training to help students develop to the best of their abilities. David emphasizes that Stingrays coaches are all well-qualified with educational and coaching qualifications. As a foremost competitive swim club, in terms of the programming, the training schedule at Stingrays is designed to take into account the recovery time of athletes.

“If a student wants to be a competitive swimmer, we first have them understand that this is certainly a time-consuming task. Swimming is an individual-based sport. If you want to be good at it, you have to work on it daily”, David explains. He also believes that swimming is a sport that develops great character within children. They get to learn life lessons within competitive swimming. Students need to develop a better concept of time management in order to handle both swim training sessions and school work. David points out “at Stingrays, we believe that academics is number one, but swimming goes hand-in-hand with academics. The strong character developed within our athletes is beneficial to them in other aspects of their lives including the academic side. We have a proven track record of Stingrays alumni who are now in NCAA division one and division three programs.”

With the majority of new student acquisitions coming from parents’ referrals, David strongly believes that word-of-mouth recommendations are a critical way of growing the Stingrays swim program, especially in a small city like Hong Kong. “Currently we have about 90 percent of our students from HKIS and 10 percent from the outside population. As I mentioned before, our swim program is a comprehensive one where anybody is welcome to participate.” In addition to HKIS, the Stingrays swim program is also available at The American Club.


Hong Kong Island Stingrays Summer Program is now open for registration! Courses are lowest at $800 per week (5-day). Choose your level and register now in below:


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