Starfish Swimming Club - a member of the Halliwick Association of Swimming Therapy
Starfish Swimming Club - a member of the Halliwick Association of Swimming Therapy
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The origins of the Starfish Club are in Waterford where a few mothers of children with disabilities took the initiative of booking a session in the Waterford Glass swimming pool. Dr. Condon whose child has Down's Syndrome and Máirín Conroy who was Hon. Secretary of the Waterford branch of the Irish Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IASBH) persevered in those early days when, at times, they would have the whole pool available for their two children. They were aware of the great benefits of activities in water. While swimming is a gentle, whole body exercise with high aerobic cardiovascular value for improving fitness, it is also a recreation where a person's special needs can be successfully met.

Máirín made contact with Mary Arrigan who was using the Halliwick method in Clarenbridge, Galway and Jim Daly volunteered to be trained at a course in Limerick. In 1983 Mary and Jim arranged a combined A & B Halliwick course directed by Halliwick's senior instructor in Britain - Dan O'Mahony - in the Waterford Glass pool. From that came the first Halliwick club in the Republic - Viking.

The Waterford club grew to the extent that it was necessary to set-up a second club based in South Tipperary. Members from Waterford helped the development of Dolphin based in Ferryhouse and this club developed rapidly into a large and active centre.

The Conroys moved to Kildare and in 1987 they started a swimming session in Moore Abbey, Monasterevin, supported by the Kildare branch of IASBH. In 1989 an experienced swimming instructor - Gerry Moran - joined and together with Kevin Conroy founded the Starfish Club. "Everyone who takes part is a star," said Gerry. Kevin pointed out that there are 1,600 different species of starfish with a very wide variety of sizes and shapes and the name symbolised the many varieties of disabilities that the club is open to. Pat Harding of Newbridge designed the crest.

Associated with the Association of Swimming Therapy, films, videos, tapes, slides, talks, demonstrations and courses are all readily available. The club developed well and helped organise "Splashes" with our sister clubs in Munster and Connaught. Some members competed in international galas in New York and in Scotland and in the CPI national championships. Two major club trips to Wales, where there are more than 20 clubs, were great successes and established long lasting friendships. Trips and activities in conjunction with Kilcullen Canoe Club, Naas Snorkel Club, Tralee Sub-Aqua club and high speed water sports at Terryglass on Lough Derg have contributed to a friendly and fun club atmosphere that loves to party!

The club officially helped form ASTRA 14 (Association of Swimming Therapy Regional Area 14) with officers from all the existing clubs in Ireland. Then in 1995 the Starfish club helped Bernadette and Pete Shinnors set-up the North Star club in Celbridge. Their Chief Instructor is Deirdre Moran who is highly qualified in Halliwick methods, is a Lifeguard, a certified Swimming Teacher, Water Safety Instructor and Snorkelling Instructor.
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