Rydon Girls Get Gold
28th June 2016
The tension was mounting, the atmosphere electric. It wasn’t a Euros 2016 match we were watching, but the final of the English Schools’ Swimming Association (ESSA) 4 x 25 metres girls’ freestyle relay national finals for primary schools held at the imposing Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield.
In lane 1 was the team from Rydon Community College, the first time that a swimming squad from the school had entered ESSA’s relay championships. The four Year 6 girls were led by team captain Zoe Algar, the other members being Amber Ranson, Jessica Mace and Olivia Round – the last three of whom all swim with Atlantis Swimming Club Horsham.
The girls’ path to Sheffield began at Horsham in Pavilions when they won the Sussex county round. This was followed by the South East regional heats which were held at Guildford in April where they were runners up and qualified for the National finals. The final stage, as already mentioned, took place at Sheffield on Saturday, 18 June.
Rydon’s girls found themselves in the third heat, alongside teams from around the country. A third place position, with a time of 59.46 seconds, was enough to take them through to the final in 7th place.
In front of a packed crowd in the sweltering stadium, it was Amber Ranson who dived in to complete the first length of the twenty-five metre pool and give Rydon a small advantage. She handed over to the team’s captain, Zoe in turn being replaced by Jessica Mace and after much position changing. The last length of the race Rydon entered the water in 4th , it was completed by Olivia Round who powered home to take first place for Rydon CC, West Sussex’s only representative and the only State school to reach the finals.
The girls’ coach at Sheffield, Daniel Ranson Atlantis SC, spoke of their strong performance: and how after the heats there were only three quarters of a second between 1st-8th place going into the final, and how the girls understood the small margins involved and used this to their advantage as a team to gain the win.
The girls’ individual gold medals were presented by Mrs Tracy Pearson, president of the English Schools’ Swimming Association. Along with the cup, which Rydon is entitled to keep until next year’s championships, the team was given a winners’ shield to be retained by their school.