Atlantis in the Arena National Swimming League

11th November 2012

Atlantis in the Arena National Swimming League

In 2011, Atlantis competed in Division One East of the Southern Area, in the Arena National League. We swam in two very exciting galas and going into the final gala, we were placed in the top 6, and had a chance to win promotion to the Premier League. The third gala was held at Crook Log Leisure Centre, and on an amazing night, Atlantis finished in second place, and secured promotion. This was probably one of the most outstanding achievements the club has made in it’s history of competitive team swimming. The whole club had worked very hard and this remarkable event was a fantastic reward for everyone involved with the club, especially the swimmers and coaches.

So, to 2012, and we are now competing with the biggest and best swimming clubs in the South of England. We were under no illusions and knew it was going to involve some very tough galas. And so it has proved. In our first gala, we came 5th and in the second, 6th. This means we now go into the third and final gala in a ‘swim-off’ situation again. The six clubs at the bottom of the league (City of Canterbury, Bromley, Staines A, Atlantis, Basingstoke Bluefins A and Wycombe) will compete against each other, with the top two staying in The Premier League. If truth be told, this is probably the scenario we expected at the start of the campaign.

When we won promotion, we became the only club in Sussex to be in the Premier League. There were a few that thought we shouldn’t want to be in that league, as it was too tough and it would be demoralizing for our swimmers, that we were not good enough! How wrong they should be. In the last two galas, our team have had the opportunity to swim against the best swimmers in the South of England, and in some cases, the best in the whole country! How can that be a bad thing? Of course, we are not going to win these galas, some of the clubs we are rubbing shoulders with are over 5 times bigger than us. But in individual races we will have our moments, and it is this experience that is so valuable to our team. There are also those who would prefer to see us winning galas, like last year, but surely competing at the highest level and not winning is a greater experience. In the last two Galas, Marco Loughran swam for Guildford. Now he is a Team GB swimmer who competed in the Olympics, and we had swimmers racing against him! Indeed, on Saturday night, Andrew Kershaw (14) was in the lane next to him in the 100m backstroke, and Andrew has been buzzing about it ever since – how is that a bad thing? Matt Fulcher lined up beside Marco in the 200 IM. Of course Marco won the race, but he was disqualified (by a rather brave turn judge), so in effect, Matt beat him! How great is that? These are moments that will stay with Matt and Andrew for a very long time. Ask Marco which was the best moment in his career – winning in the National League or coming 18th in the Olympics, and I think we all know what his answer would be. It is not always about the winning, but more about competing at the highest level.

At The Pavillions in the Park, we had the privilege of hosting one of the first round galas. We had the top swimmers from across the South, swimming in our pool, including three Olympians! This was a fantastic night, and when has Horsham ever seen such a high standard of competitive swimming?

And so to the last gala, on December 8th. The club will be doing everything possible to ensure our team is in tip top condition and ready to fight for our place in this league. Bill and Andy have enormous faith in the team, and will be doing everything they can to get our team ready. We fought really hard to get into this league, and we are going to have to fight even harder to stay in it. But if you ever wanted a team that will give its all, and more, then Atlantis is the team. They are amazing!