Atlantis start the season with a classic nail-biter.

15th October 2013

Last weekend had swimming clubs all over the country preparing for the first round galas of The Arena National League, and for Atlantis, this meant a trip to the home of Black Lions Swimming Club in Gillingham, Kent. There, not only would we face the ever strong hosts, but also Ashford Swimming Club, Orpington Ojays, and another reputedly strong team in Croydon Amphibians. For many swimmers, this would be the first competitive swim of the season, as they are currently training hard to get back to top form after their summer break, and combined with the need for some swimmers to make their debut at this level, the event was sure to be an interesting and exciting evening. And so it proved to be.

The gala itself is made up of 50 races, both individual events and relays, in 4 age groups (Under 12, Under 14, Under 15, and the Open age group), and the first race of the evening was the Ladies Open 200m medley, which was emphatically won by the Atlantis girls captain, Bex Lobley. This was a great confidence boost for the team, and it obviously inspired the younger swimmers as the Under 12s were in sparking form. The races come thick and fast, and after the first 10 events, Atlantis were swimming well and were in second place, just behind Croydon, and a little surprisingly, ahead of Black Lion, but it was close, and this was reflected in the atmosphere in the gallery, with all the clubs getting increased vocal support. This obviously transferred poolside as the teams continued to produce some fantastic races, with several results relying on the electronic timing to split the places. Five more races and Atlantis edged past Croydon into first place, helped by an impressive 100m Breaststroke by last yearís National finalist Lily Davis. The Under 12 girls ( Rebecca Barber, Isobel Hooker, Holly Porter, Ethel Whyman and debutant Amelia Wright) were continuing to impress, but after 26 events, the team had been pegged back into third place, and it was looking a little ominous. Yet never a team to give up, the swimmers continued to swim beyond expectation, and within the next 8 races, they regained first place, however after another 8 races, Black Lion had edged ahead again. And so it was going to come down to the last 8 races which were all relays for boys and girls across the four age groups. A big team effort was needed from all the swimmers and they didnít disappoint. Every team was roared on by the spectators, and there was even encouragement coming from back in Horsham from club members who were following events on Facebook! There were some very close finishes and the tension was compounded in the Girls under 16 medley relay, when Atlantis and Black Lion were neck and neck, and the electronic timing scoreboard failed to show the crowd who had got the winning touch! So they had to wait for the announcement at the end of the evening that declared Ashford in 5th place, Orpington 4th, Croydon 3rd, and Atlantis and Black Lion tied in first place with 214.5 points each!

On reflection, this was a result that exceeded expectations. Our swimmers won 15 of the races and came second in 17 races, and produced 15 personal best swims, which is very impressive so early in the season. Black Lion also won 15 races, but picked up 2 more 2nd places than Atlantis, and hence they will be awarded 6 league points and Atlantis 5 points. This places us in joint fourth place in the league after the first round, and sets us up for an exciting second round on November 9th.


The team looking relaxed before the start of an exciting evening.