Sun, sea and sand a perfect mix for Swansea City Under-23s
After putting in the hard yards and graft during the early stages of pre-season, Swansea City’s under-23s headed to the beach for a different form of training.
Coach Kristian O’Leary took his staff and squad to Aberavon Beach for a dip in the sea along with a paddle boarding session and fun football tennis matches.
It comes after a demanding start to the pre-season schedule, which saw the under-23s join up with the under-18 group for a training camp in the Lake District.
A three-day camp in Cumbria saw the players face a number of team-building exercises along with activities designed to test on a number of fronts.
With friendly matches already under their belt, the under-23s benefited from a trip to the beach to rest and recover.
But, as O’Leary explains, it was more also an opportunity to showcase the area to the new players within his squad.
“The trip allowed us to get some recovery the day after a friendly match, but there was more to it than that,” he said.
“The physio told me last year that due to covid, players who came from all parts of the country hadn’t experienced anything other than Landore.
“I want to be proactive and think a lot about it. I want the lads to get out and see what’s in the area - not just in Swansea, but the surrounding area too.
“These are young lads who have moved from all parts of the country. They’ve been with each other for just over three weeks, so giving them a day off and letting them sit in their digs or hotel is not right.
“So going to the beach ticked a lot of boxes. It allowed them to relax, switch off and do a bit of paddle boarding in the sea.
“We took the mind off football itself and the competitiveness of it. It switches them off mentally and physically, and there’s no better place to do that than the beach.”
Utilising the south west Wales coastline has been a regular theme for the club over the years, with dreaded runs up the dunes in Three Cliffs Bay and treks around Mumbles testing players’ fitness.
It was something O’Leary took in during his time at the Swans as a midfielder, and he is keen to make the most of the surroundings in order to prepare his young charges for the new campaign.
“We did it a few times during my playing days,” said O’Leary, who played over 330 games for the Swans during a 15-year playing career before returning as a coach.
“It was more for recovery when it was a little colder – the sea was like a natural ice bath!
“It aids recovery, and we did it a few times under Roberto Martinez when we played Tuesday-Saturday and the bank holiday games. We’d nip down to the beach and it would really help.
“We’ve got a lovely coastline here, so it’s an opportunity for us to make the most of it.”