Wisbech Swimming Club hosted one of two Senior Fenland League Round One galas, at the town’s Hudson Centre.
With Mildenhall, City of Ely, West Norfolk and Thetford in attendance, the home team’s greatest challenge was always likely to come from West Norfolk.
So it proved, West winning powerfully on 213 points, yet Wisbech were never disheartened, swimming strongly to second place on 171 points.
Keeping West Norfolk on its toes throughout the evening, Wisbech took victories in the female 10/U & 12/U 100m freestyle relay (Lily Jones, Esme Gilbert, Erin Doherty and Molly Hewitt), male 12/U 50m backstroke (Conner Loughlin), male 10/U 50m breaststroke (Henry Leach), female 10/U 50m freestyle (Erin Doherty), female 10/U 50m backstroke (Esme Gilbert), male 10/U 50m backstroke (Harry Smith), male 12/U 50m freestyle (Mateusz Smialek), male 12/U 10m individual medley (Joe Tierney) and male 10/U & 12/U 100m medley relay (Harry Smith, Joe Tierney, Harrison Smith and Henry Leach).
Back in May, three of the Wisbech Senior Fenland League swimmers, Alex Gallagher, Mary O’Neill and Ben Knowles, had joined teammates Beth Dennis and Sam Smith at the 14 & Under Regional Championships. All had achieved the qualifying times required to compete in the 50m ‘long course’ pool at UEA in Norwich.
For four of them, the scale of the competition itself was a challenge, as was stepping up to swim long course when all their training is done in the Hudson’s 25m pool. Dennis, competing in the 100m and 50m breaststroke events, swam faster than her short course PBs, a massive achievement perhaps aided by the fact that she had swum at this level before and therefore had the experience and determination to better rise to the challenge.
Knowles, swimming in the 13/U age group and the most prolific qualifier, competed in five events (50, 100 and 200m back, 200m IM and 200m front crawl). He swam the equivalent of two short course PBs in the 100 and 50m back and was justifiably pleased with his results.
Sam Smith’s 100m backstroke time in the 13/U group converted to be within a second of his best short course performance and, although Gallagher and O’Neill were both outside their best times, they learned from the experience and are already working hard towards achieving times for next year.
Head coach, Greg Marsters, said: “I’m very upbeat about these performances. All five swimmers have worked hard to achieve this competition level and I hope it’ll inspire other squad swimmers to obtain qualifying times for next year.”