Talbot Heath Crowned Double World Swimming Champions

Congratulations to the TH Swimming Academy in last weekend’s World School Games who all achieved superb results: 1st place for year 5/6 girls, 2nd for year 7/8 and 1st for years 9 & 10. Here is a report from swimming coach Barry Aldrick:

The Talbot Heath Swimming Pathway found themselves immersed in an exciting range of experiences at the illustrious World School Games Swimming Championships, at the London Aquatic Centre. Teams from across the world converged and the students embraced the enriching opportunity to forge new connections at the event; all looked forward to the series of individual contests and relays over the course of an eventful two-day event.

Saturday Morning – Against the backdrop of the London Aquatic centre, the team stood united, capturing a moment of collective spirit alongside the endearing World School Games Mascot, ‘Atlas.’ Amidst the echoes of excitement and anticipation, they embarked on their warm-up rituals, both on land and in the pool.

The very first race of the day was a 4 x 50m Freestyle Relay, where the junior team of Alex, Thalia, Romilly, and Caidee combined to impressively win the first GOLD medal of the weekend. Our senior team of Erin, Lottie, Blossom, and Halle combined to earn the Silver Medal, with our intermediate team of Florence, Lilly, Daria, and Victoria narrowly missing the medals finishing 4th. What a start!

The heats saw many of the pupils qualify for the evening finals, indeed a brilliant 16 personal best times were earned out of the 24 heat swims, with Eliza C earning a massive 8% best time in 50m Butterfly. The final event of the morning was Individual Medley swims, where Romilly earned the first individual medal of the weekend with a Bronze in the 200IM in the Junior age, and Erin the same colour in the senior age. After a pleasant lunch sat in the plaza watching West Ham and Luton fans draw in for the big match of the weekend, the team arrived back at the pool for the afternoon finals session.

Saturday Afternoon – Backstroke Finals – An exciting 1-2 was earned in the 50m backstroke with Alex becoming World Champion and Lara earning the silver medal in a riveting duel that captivated spectators from start to finish. In the intermediate category, Theia demonstrated her mettle by securing a commendable 6th place, while Florence matched the achievement in her own right, earning 9th. Continuing the streak of success, Erin clinched her second medal of the day with a well-deserved bronze in the same event, as Lottie narrowly missed the podium by touching 4th in the Senior age.

Breast-stroke Finals – In an unprecedented display of dominance, the TH pupils amazed spectators by securing an astounding 5 medals across the ages in the 3 x 50m Breaststroke races . Caidee emerged victorious in the Junior category, while Victoria triumphed in the Intermediate age alongside her teammate Lilly, who clinched the silver medal. In the Senior age group, Halle captured the gold medal, with Lottie exhibiting a thrilling display of tenacity to secure the silver. Romilly, who excelled with a personal best in the heats, showcased her resilience by achieving another personal best in the final, finishing in a commendable 5th place.

Freestyle Finals – In the water, Thalia exhibited a stellar performance, shattering her personal best to secure a remarkable 4th place in the intense 50m Freestyle event, closely followed by her teammate Lara, who showcased her prowess with a solid 6th place finish in her second final. Daria, channelling her determination, surged from 4th, achieved a personal best, and touched the wall to claim the coveted Silver Medal.

Meanwhile, in the senior age category, Blossom and Bea exhibited marked improvements in their technical execution, with Blossom clinching 6th place and Bea securing the 9th position, a testament to their dedication and skill in the fiercely competitive arena of swimming.

Butterfly Finals – Alex and Thalia continued with their fine form, both earning personal best times again to finish 7th and 8th respectively in the 50m Butterfly Final.  In the age group above, Lilly earned the 5th place spot.

4 x 50m Medley Final – In a remarkable showcase of racing prowess, the Talbot Heath teams surged to victory, securing GOLD in all three age groups in the 4 x 50m Medley Relay. The junior team displayed seamless coordination, with Lara dominating the Backstroke leg, Romilly excelling in Breaststroke, Caidee showcasing her prowess in Butterfly, and Alex delivering a stellar performance in the Freestyle segment. In the intermediate category, Daria led the team in the Backstroke, while Victoria commanded the Breaststroke leg, Lilly showcased finesse in Butterfly, and Florence sealed the victory with a powerful display in the Freestyle leg.

As for the Senior age group, Erin set the pace in the Backstroke portion, Halle displayed mastery in Breaststroke, Lottie added to the team’s momentum with an impressive Butterfly performance, and Bea capped off the race with a strong finish in Freestyle, solidifying the team’s triumphant sweep across the age categories.

Saturday Evening – The team had a chance to unwind and regroup before convening for a collective team meal, providing a moment of camaraderie and celebration. During this gathering, awards were presented to honour individuals who exemplified the core values cherished at Talbot Heath, namely team support, resilience, a growth mindset, and kindness. These accolades served as tokens of appreciation for embodying these principles and fostering a culture of excellence within the team.

Sunday Morning – On Sunday, the stakes escalated as the events doubled in distance, with each team fielding two swimmers for the 100m Backstroke, 100m Breaststroke, 100m Freestyle, and the 100m Butterfly races. A unique incentive was introduced by Talbot Heath Coaches, offering swimmers the opportunity to receive special Rubber Duckies by engaging in video analysis of their races and providing constructive feedback to the coaches, a process aimed at identifying incremental improvements leading up to the evening finals later in the day.

In the exhilarating heats, an impressive 23 out of 24 individual swims secured berths in the evening finals, underscoring the team’s collective resolve and competitive edge. A remarkable tally of 14 personal best performances further underscored the athletes’ dedication to continuous improvement, with standout Eliza fortifying her prowess by enhancing her 100m Butterfly time by a staggering 30%.

The morning session culminated in a compelling Heat Declared Winner 200m Freestyle event. In the Junior category, Romilly delivered a commendable 5-second personal best, landing in 4th place, while Caidee dazzled with an impressive 8-second improvement, securing the Silver Medal. Transitioning to the intermediate age bracket, Theia showcased her growth by shaving four seconds off her personal best to claim the 8th position, with Daria achieving a two-second personal best to secure 6th place. In the Senior age cohort, Bea demonstrated her resilience by trimming three seconds off her personal best, earning the 9th spot, while Blossom’s determined efforts propelled her to the 7th place finish, a testament to the team’s competitive spirit.

Sunday Afternoon Finals – The Sunday afternoon session commenced with an invigorating knockout competition known as ‘Skins,’ where the top 8 performers from the Individual Medley Events held the previous day vied in a series of 50m races at regular intervals. In each round, the stroke for the race was determined by drawing lots until a sole victor emerged from the intense showdown.

In the Junior age, Romilly made it all the way to final, performing 3 personal bests in each round which consisted of 2 Backstroke swims and a freestyle swim, and became the runner up.   In the Intermediate age Daria progressed two rounds of butterfly making the semifinal, finishing 5th overall.  Erin and Halle made it to the Senior ‘Skins’ event where  Halle made it to the semi final finishing 4th overall through a Breast-stroke and Backstroke leg, whilst Erin just went out in the first Breast-stroke round.

In the Junior age, Romilly demonstrated tenacity, advancing all the way to the final and achieving 3 personal best times in each round, featuring 2 Backstroke events and a Freestyle swim, ultimately securing the runner-up position. Moving on to the Intermediate age group, Daria navigated through two rounds of the butterfly competition, reaching the semifinals and concluding the event in 5th place overall. In the Senior ‘Skins’ competition, both Erin and Halle represented themselves admirably. Halle progressed to the semifinals, securing a commendable 4th place finish by excelling in the Breaststroke and Backstroke legs. However, Erin was eliminated in the initial round of the Breaststroke.

100m Backstroke – The first individual final of the evening witnessed a compelling showdown between our junior swimmers, Alex and Lara, as they vied for medals. In a thrilling conclusion, Alex surged ahead in the last stretch to secure the Gold, while Lara displayed her prowess to earn the Bronze Medal. Stepping into the spotlight, Theia and Eliza delivered standout performances, each achieving significant personal best times and securing the 5th and 6th positions in the intermediate final, respectively. Transitioning to the Senior category, both Erin and Lottie demonstrated their resolve by surpassing their heat times, with Erin clinching the Bronze position and Lottie finishing 4th, a testament to their ability to step up from heat to final.

100m Breast-stroke – The following event was the 100m Breaststroke, where yet again a remarkable five medals were secured across three races, echoing the successes of the previous day. In the Junior division, Caidee captured the Silver Medal, while Romilly secured the 5th position. The Intermediate category witnessed a fierce competition between Victoria and Lilly, culminating in a gripping showdown where Lilly’s unwavering determination on the final stretch propelled her to Gold, whilst Victoria claimed the Silver, both achieving personal best times. In the Senior age group, Halle exhibited dominance from the outset to the finish line, with Lottie showcasing a remarkable improvement from the heats to capture the Bronze medal. These results further solidifying the team’s outstanding performance in the Breaststroke events.

100m Freestyle – In the 100m Freestyle event, the focus was on Alex and Thalia in the Junior division. Alex showcased a strong finish, surging through the competitors in the final stretch to secure the Bronze medal, while Thalia continued her impressive streak with yet another personal best time, clinching the 5th position. In the same event, Daria strategically managed her pace, unleashing her full potential in the concluding moments of the race, propelling herself from 6th to a close 4th place finish, missing the medals by a mere fraction, with Florence achieving the 9th spot.

In the Senior Age Group, Erin displayed unwavering determination, pushing herself to secure her 4th individual Bronze medal of the meet. Bea also demonstrated a commendable performance by advancing a place to finish in the 9th position, rounding out the team’s achievements in the challenging 100m Freestyle event.

100m Butterfly – In a display of sheer determination that captivated spectators, Caidee delivered a remarkable performance, seizing victory by moving from 3rd to 2nd place and then overcoming a significant 10-meter gap to out-touch her competitor and claim the Gold in the final stages of the race. Her relentless determination earned a notable decrease of 5 seconds in her personal best time across the day. In a parallel demonstration of resilience, Thalia also demonstrated her prowess by shaving off an impressive 5 seconds from her best time, showcasing her talent and commitment by securing the 5th position.

Lilly maintained her steady progress by delivering another stellar personal best performance, resulting in a 6th place finish in the Intermediate age category. In the Senior category Blossom pushed her limits in pursuit of an Individual Medal, achieving a noteworthy personal best time in the final, which was 3 seconds faster than her heat time, thereby clinching the Bronze, with Halle securing the 5th spot.

Summary – The team’s collective efforts culminated in a remarkable achievement, garnering an impressive total of 5 Relay Medals (4 Gold, 1 Silver) and 25 Individual Medals (9 Gold, 7 Silver, and 9 Bronze Medals). With great excitement, both the Junior and Senior Teams were crowned Female World School Games Swimming Championships, celebrating their outstanding performances and well-deserved victories. In a testament to their talent and dedication, the Intermediate team also achieved a commendable feat, finishing as runners-up in the prestigious competition, solidifying their status as formidable contenders in the world of school swimming.

The seamless execution of the weekend event was made possible by the tireless efforts and time invested by our dedicated Team Managers Samantha, Rob, Rona, and Jools and the TH Finance Team, whose commitment played an instrumental role in its success. Additionally, the unwavering support of our proud parents was invaluable, and we extend a profound amount of gratitude to them for their contributions. A well-deserved congratulations is in order for our exceptional Swimming Pupils and Coaches, whose hard work and dedication shone brightly throughout the competition, embodying the spirit of Talbot Heath.


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