Sussex County Development Meet. 13.11.11

19th November 2011

On Sunday, many swimmers from Atlantis headed south to Brighton for the County Development meet at The Prince Regent Swimming Pool.  This  was the second session of the meet, with the previous being a couple of weeks earlier. Then, Atlantis had 8 swimmers producing 13 County Qualifying Times (CQTs), and this session provided the opportunity for more swimmers to get more qualifying times.

Previously, this venue has been unpopular with me, as it was always so hot and uncomfortable, with never enough seating for spectators, but I can safely say that my last two visits have been a joy. No over-crowding, no delays, and very well organised events with electronic timing. My opinion of this venue has certainly been changed! Anyway, back to the gala, and a quick read through the programme showed that there were  lots of opportunities for Atlantis swimmers to do well and get some good times. It did, however, also list some 74 entries in the girls 200m breaststroke, which from a spectators point of view, can be a bit arduous. I will come back to that.

The opening event, the girls 200m backstroke,  saw 5 Atlantis swimmers compete, and they started the day in style with Madey Carey, Gemma Cumber, and Francesca Giles all achieving CQT’s. A great start to the day, and it was hoped that the boys could step up and match the girls’ efforts. The next event was the boys 100m backstroke, and despite a late night in Dover the night before, Chris Lambourne and Andrew Kershaw both posted impressive CQT’s. Oliver Giles and Cavan Murphy also posted good PBs and showed the potential to get their CQTs later in the season.

And so the day went on, Isabelle Storey and Jenifer Nash posted great PB’s in the 100 fly, followed by James Hartley and Chris Lambourne getting their CQTs in the 200 IM. There followed a series of sprint events, with many great swims and a few withdrawals due to qualifying times already being achieved.  The girls 100 free saw a determined swim from Jennifer Nash as she achieved her CQT in some style. It is great to see Jennifer getting back to her best form after a long injury lay-off and recovery period.

We returned after lunch to the girls 200 fly, but sadly, no Atlantis swimmers in that! So on to the 50m backstroke for boys, and Andrew Kershaw got the ball rolling with his CQT, just!! And then it was the aforementioned girls 200 breaststroke.  With so many heats, each being 3 – 5 minutes long,  it looked like a good hour long event, and I felt for the boys who were whipped for the next event, having to stand around for an hour, waiting for their race. It is fair to say, I wasn’t looking forward to it, BUT, enter Eve Clarke. She swan a fantastic race, posted a massive 16 second PB and was duly rewarded with a CQT. This event now had my attention, and I started to realise these races can be just as exciting as the sprints, sometimes. Towards the end, Eleanor Morris stepped up in Lane 1. Just needing to shave 0.8 of her PB, she set off in commanding style. Matched stroke for stroke by the swimmer in lane 5, this became an enthralling race ( kind of like watching Izzy and Bex go head to head in the club champs!). For 8 lengths, these two were absolutely inseparable, despite the somewhat vociferous support from an un-named mother (Fiona), and it really was an exciting, proper ‘race’. The CQT was never in doubt.

A tough act to follow, but in the boys 200 free Liam Smith posted a  big 9 second PB, followed by Cavan Murphy knocking some 18 seconds off his entry time. We then saw Eve Clarke get her CQT in the 50 free, and Chris Lambourne finish his successful day with a CQT in the 100 IM. Obviously, Chris had had his three shredded wheat for breakfast!

Whilst celebrating all our County Qualifiers, it must not be forgotten that many of our younger swimmers enjoyed a great day out, competing and gaining valuable experience. And for many other swimmers, they can now see how close they are, and with ‘The Cracker’ next week, I am sure we will see many more CQTs achieved. So many swimmers came so close, they must surely feel really confident about the upcoming  galas .

To finalise, I come to the last event of the day, and to two young swimmers who epitomised everything that is good about swimming, Atlantis, and this gala. Lily Davis had swum in the morning, and then patiently waited through the afternoon session, to swim in the last event. She only needed to shave 1.4 seconds off her entry time, and she duly did and more, posting a near 3.5 second PB. And then there was Lilly Cherriman. She arrived at lunchtime, warmed up, and then sat and waited, got cold, got bored, but remained focused for her only event, the last event, and with great determination, needing a 3.1 second PB, went out and  swam a 3.4 second PB - A CQT and a smile to light up the pool!  The shared excitement of Mum and daughter, to me, showed what the value of competitive  swimming can be. Brilliant, well done Lilly, and well done to all our  swimmers, who tried their best, did their coaches proud, and will swim another day.

Andy Kershaw