Jane Blackwell – Head Junior Development Coach

Sunday 27 August 2023

We are devastated to share that Jane Blackwell sadly passed away following an accident on Sunday 20th August 2023. Our heartfelt sympathies and condolences are with Jane’s husband and her family at this incredibly difficult time.

Jane has been a beloved member of our club for over eleven years and as a parent with the club for many years prior to that. We’ve lost a wonderful colleague and an incredibly passionate coach who always supported the swimmers and families in a sport that she loved.

Tributes:

Alex Pinniger, CONSC Head Coach:

I first met Jane Blackwell in March 2011. Having only just advertised for a Head Junior Coach, Jane contacted me and asked to meet up for a coffee. She talked passionately about coaching junior swimmers, her love of sport and her experiences of being a swimming parent at the club 20 years prior. She secured the position at our meeting and started immediately. Jane has been an invaluable member of our team for these 12 years. Caring, considerate, optimistic, supportive, thoughtful, loyal, my friend …… everyone’s friend. A brilliant swimming coach, inspiring and championing her swimmers. 

Jane loved coaching swimmers and she always went the extra mile for all of the families that she came into contact with. Three years ago we entered lockdown due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Swimming pools were closed down and they remained closed for months. Jane immediately set up and streamed daily fitness sessions live from her brand new home gym for all of her junior swimmers and their families. She continued these throughout the Pandemic. Lockdown affected so many people’s mental health and well-being but Jane ensured that all 70 of her junior swimmers and their families remained fit, healthy, connected and felt part of something special every day. All of them returned to her swimming squads when swimming pools reopened. She made an incredible difference to so many lives.

Jane took a particular interest in open water swimming and every summer she would organise and personally coach a series of open water training sessions at Whitlingham Great Broad. Her passion was to encourage young swimmers who had not previously participated in open water swimming to try it for the first time. She would always get in to the lake with the swimmers and reassure the nervous ones. She loved swimming with the groups and the children learned so much from being in the water with Jane. On one occasion there was a tremendous rain storm but this didn’t phase Jane so she got in to the lake first and the training session continued much to the amazement of the swimmers and parents. Jane inspired the swimmers showing them how it is possible to overcome any situation and gain confidence. Many of the swimmers went on to compete in open-water achieving great success at the Norfolk County, East Region and National Open Water Championships.

Jane and the CONSC Open Water swimmers on a rainy day

Our coaching team meet up regularly in the Red Lion restaurant to come together and discuss coaching matters. In Jane’s 12 years with our club she attended every single meeting. She adored being an integral member of our coaching team as well as the terrific food and social aspect to the meetings. But what she relished most at our meetings was the opportunity to champion all of her junior swimmers. She would talk with enthusiasm and joy, in tremendous detail about how well they are all progressing, the new skills they are mastering, how well they are performing in their recent competitions, and that they are “gonna be good” and “one’s to watch for the future!” 

Jane was a highly competitive swimming coach. She loved her swimmers progressing, performing successfully and winning team competitions. Her junior teams won the Norfolk Junior League every year from 2011 through to and including this year 2023. Her junior teams regularly won the Eastern Junior League progressing on to the National Grand Junior Final where they placed 5th on three occasions. This clearly demonstrates the calibre of coach that Jane was and it was because of her exceptional coaching that she was awarded Norwich Sports Coach of the Year 2014.

Jane Blackwell coached over 1000 swimmers in Norfolk and made a huge difference to every single one. Always going the extra mile, inspiring and championing her swimmers. We will miss you dearly but you will never be forgotten. Rest in peace Jane.

The Maguire Family: Jane was such an inspiration and provided such excellent support, coaching and guidance to Jake, Billy and Rosa – Jessie, Ciaran, Jake, Billy and Rosa Maguire.

The Howard Family: We were deeply saddened the hear the news about Jane – our thoughts are with her family and all of the Club at this extremely difficult time, she will certainly be missed by all – Claire Howard.

Rebecca Jones: I wanted to extend our most sincere and deepest thoughts to you, Jane’s colleagues at the club and her family after hearing the devastating news. I can only hope that the knowledge that we are all together and holding Jane in our hearts will help everyone and her family through this incredibly difficult time. 

The Reynolds Family: Jane coached my daughter through the JD squads. In JD2 Zoe was feeling unmotivated partly because in galas she didn’t gain any medals and was thinking of leaving.  Jane was so wonderful with her and told Zoe  how pleased she was with her progress,  she told Zoe that she should never compare herself to others but look at her own personal journey.  She told Zoe that winners come and go but she felt the most achievement if someone who she’d coached went on to love swimming for the rest of their life. Zoe hasn’t wavered since and truly loves swimming, she says she can’t ever imagine stopping. Please pass on my condolences to her family Jane was a fabulous coach who really inspired Zoe to love the sport.

The Holt Family: We were devastated to read this earlier this morning. I’ve known Jane for a number of years, initially working alongside her and her family many years ago at Wymondham leisure centre, and then more recently competing with her/alongside her in triathlons, before meeting again last September when my son joined your swimming club. I cannot begin to imagine how you and your club are feeling right now, and my thoughts are with you all, and of course Jane’s family. A massive loss to the swimming family, and a lady who my son thought a lot of. In our thoughts at this time – Amy and Jon Holt, plus of course George Holt, JD1.

The Conway Family: Jane was wonderful with our eldest daughter Elfie and outstanding at what she did. I was looking forward to when my youngest could train with her. Please will you pass on our sincere condolences to her family, and to the rest of the team – Emma Conway.

The Stone Family: Tyler thinks the world of Jane. Jane was the first person to believe in Tyler and I remember at his trial back when he had just turned 7, that she said I’m very good at spotting swimmers with potential and I think he is going to be really good. I hope he keeps proving her right! He had never tumble turned or dived before and couldn’t do breast or fly that well but she wanted to put him straight into JD3 and told him he will need to work really hard. He hasn’t looked back since and I regularly thanked her when we caught up on social media, that he wouldn’t be where he is today if she hadn’t of given him such a good start. I can’t believe that was nearly 6.5 years ago. Live is cruel at times and we shouldn’t take it for granted.  Please pass on our condolences to Jane’s family – Mark, Rosanna and Tyler Stone.

The Guy Family: We are so shocked and saddened to hear this heartbreaking news. Jane really has been such a big part of our children’s lives and taught them all so much. Our thoughts are with you all – Steve, Donna, Dylan, Jake and Eloise Guy.

The Ashford Family: Having only known Jane for a very short time of 6 months since we joined the club, she has provided kindness and support for Benjamin, and such enthusiasm for his and all of the other children’s swimming. I can’t imagine how you and the rest of her colleagues at CONSC must be feeling having worked with her for so many years. I am so sad that such a caring and truly energetic lady with a clear love for life has been taken away from her family and friends so early – Sarah-Jane Ashford.

The Isaacson Family: We are deeply in shock receiving the news of the tragic passing of Jane. We were only speaking to her Friday evening when my daughter Lily was swimming at Hewett. Lily adored Jane, and thought she was the best coach. Jane said that Lily is a natural and would go far. I simply cannot believe the news, it is devastating. Jane only spoke of her love for her new bike that she bought with her retirement money last Sunday at the Norwich High pool. Our love, thoughts and condolences go to Jane’s family and to all you guys – Vanessa Isaacson.

Lynne Meale: Libby was completely devastated when I told her the news about Jane, as was I when I heard. As a coach, her enthusiasm for her JD swimmers and helping them achieve their best was credible. As Libby said, ‘ I loved Jane…she was awesome and funny’  As a fellow Masters swimmer and friend for 23 years, she was an inspiration and she will be so greatly missed. Libby and I have talked about her lots and will continue to do so, in the hope that it helps Libby process it all.   Poolside is certainly going to seem empty for a while. I hope you and the rest of the committee and coaches are all doing ok. My thoughts go to everyone right now.

If you have some words you would like to share about Jane please contact me at tbirdspinner@gmail.com.

Families may find the resources below useful:
https://www.hopeagain.org.uk/
https://www.kooth.com
https://www.childline.org.uk

As soon as we have further information regarding the family’s wishes we will share as appropriate.

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