Short course success for swimmers

Ready to rumble: Newcastle's swimmers exceeded expectations at the competition. Image: Lucy Nehring

Last weekend, Newcastle University’s Swimming club headed south to Ponds Forge International Swimming Centre in Sheffield to compete against some of the best swimmers in the country in the annual BUCS short course swimming championships.

Following some great early season preparation, the team, 25 of the Toon’s finest swimmers, was ready and rearing to go, excited to get some racing under their belt in their first competition of the 2016/ 2017 academic year. In amongst the squad was second year speech and language therapist, Lucy Ellis, who made it to the British Olympic trials in the 400m and 800m front crawl.

The swim club train an impressive five times a week to prepare them for their BUCS competitions, and they didn’t disappoint in Sheffield. As there are only three BUCS swimming competitions a year, every performance counts.

The BUCS short course event takes place in a 25m pool, and is held annually over three days, with a total of five swimming sessions taking place: one on the Friday, two on the Saturday, and two on the Sunday. Sheffield’s pool was divided by a boom into a 25m boys’ pool, and a 25m girls’ pool.

“The swim club train an impressive five times a week to prepare for their BUCS competitions”

The first session was for the 800m and 1500m front crawl, as well as the preliminary medley relay races. With the individual events, swimmers only swim once, and this time decides their final placing, since the event takes so long to swim.

The rest of the weekend’s races (the 50m, 100m, and 200m of each stroke) were split between Saturday and Sunday. BUCS points are awarded for every final a team member makes, and double points are awarded for every relay final a team makes.

The first session of competition saw Matt Allsop compete in the 1500m and record a new personal best of 17.51. This got Newcastle off to a flying start, and gave confidence to those competing later. Both the men’s and women’s relay teams also raced on Friday, with the women narrowly missing out on a place in the final. Despite both teams missing out on finals, the performances were very impressive considering the field was filled with both Olympic and Commonwealth representatives, with the crowd loudly cheering on all the competitors.

“The highlight of the day was undoubtedly Ben Purcell, who qualified for the men’s 50m breast stroke B final”

Following on from a positive first evening, Saturday’s races were approached with great enthusiasm by all team members. In the morning session, the team swam hard and produced a number of personal best times, proving that all their time training hard in Newcastle had paid off.

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly Ben Purcell, who qualified for the men’s 50m breast stroke B final. Purcell finished 8th in what was a very fast race, backing up his impressive performance in the heats.

Going into day three of the competition, Newcastle were keen to end their weekend in Sheffield on a high. Sunday’s results reflected their desire, with many of the team achieving personal best times and exceeding their own expectations. Squad member, Lucy Ellis, had a particularly rewarding day as she finished an impressive 8th in the 200m Individual Medley A final (with a new personal best), and 10th in the 400m Freestyle. Special mention should also go to Issy Centeleghe, who finished 7th in the B final of the 50m Butterfly.

After a successful weekend, the team returned home, excited and full of enthusiasm to start training for their long course BUCS competition in February, where events are swam in a 50m pool. After this, they will work towards the  Team BUCS Championships in March. All in all, the weekend saw a host of great performances which the team will undoubtedly build upon over the coming year.

“Sunday’s results reflected their desire, with many of the team achieving personal best times and exceeding their own expectations”

Newcastle Swimming Club’s President, Peter Sands, said of the event that ‘It was a brilliant weekend with plenty of fast swims. It was great to see the team doing so well and getting some personal bests of my own was a good bonus”

Fellow competitor and team photographer, Lucy Nehring, said ‘it was a great weekend, and we bonded so much as a team.’ We look forward to seeing how the team fare in the BUCS long course event next year, and wish them the best of luck.

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