ESSA Second School Teams Championships 2023

The English Schools Swimming Association enjoyed hosting their 65th annual National Championships for Secondary School Teams, and with over 300 schools competing in regional qualifying rounds; to qualify, Talbot Heath found themselves in the top 24 with two Junior Teams and two Intermediate Teams having qualified.  The crew met in the morning and headed up the country to the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Birmingham which was built and lit up by the athletes that competed at the Commonwelath Games in 2022.
The TH teams had qualified in a 25m pool, and now would be racing in a 50m pool.  The challenge was to beat the 25m pool qualifying time, which is typically a quicker time due to there being more walls to push off from.
Following the warm-up, the team took part in the traditional parade and enjoyed the Mayor of Birmingham and President of the ESSA Swimming Association opening the competition.  After changing into racing suits (and a few too many minutes spent on preparing make-up for the livestream) it was time for Team Talks.
Up first was the Female 4 x 50m Freestyle Junior team of Daria, Florence, Lilly and Theia, in which all four girls went under their respective long course personal bests and went two seconds quicker than their qualifying mark propelling them from 22nd to 16th in the final rankings.
The Intermediate 4 x 50m Freestyle Relay of Scarlett, Halle, Erin and Bertie were going into the race ranked 10th with a big opportunity to make the top 8 for the final.  At this level, the whole team needed to be under personal best times, and although they gave their all, it wasn’t enough to progress and the team finished 14th. However, solace could be sought, as the team set a new mark for the Swimming Academy earning the School Record.
After watching some impressive swimming in the finals, the second part of the gala would see the TH pupils compete in the 4 x 50m Medley Relays.  The Junior Team of Daria, Victoria, Lilly and Theia again all swam on or under personal best level and again impressively dipped two seconds lower than the mark they had set to qualify.  The team earned 18th place, again moving up 5 positions.
The Intermediate Team of Erin, Halle, Bertie and Scarlett were determined and all put in times right on or under their personal best times, and finished exactly where they had gone ranked in 10th position.  It was not quite enough to make the final but the team impressively broke the school record by 8 seconds.
After watching the finals and locking in a determined hunger to return next year, with an improvement in rankings and records under their belts, the team enjoyed the journey home with songs and some very strange styles of laughter…
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