Talbot Heath Shines at the English Schools Swimming Association Secondary Team Championships.

For the first time since the TH Swimming Academy was formed in 2019, Talbot Heath had secured qualified teams from the earlier Regional Championship in each of the Junior, Intermediate, and Senior categories for the English Schools Swimming Association National Secondary Team Championships. In 2022 two thousand and ninety-nine teams from over 300 schools participated in the qualifying rounds in twenty separate galas across the country, with the top 30 teams making the National Finals held at the prestigious Queen Elizabeth London Aquatic Swimming Pool.

The only change to the qualifying TH teams was Bea R stepping in for teammate Scarlett in the Intermediate Team, who had suffered a broken hand at the expense of finishing a swim race too hard. The teams travelled by school minibus, where an appreciative thank you goes to Kristian Robinson for driving and supporting the team. Following a music quiz, multiple kahoot quizzes, and some questionably pitched singing, the team arrived at the iconic venue. 

Following the pool familiarisation session and Lottie V representing the school in the Captains’ Parade, the teams were fired up for competing. The first session would see the Junior and Senior Teams compete in the 4 x 50m Freestyle Relay:

The Junior team of Blossom, Daria, Bertie, and Halle earned second in their heat, qualifying 7th for the final. The Senior Team of Catherine, Erin, Lilly, and Betsy were up next, who all swam brilliantly and would have qualified the team for the final had it not been for an official’s decision to disqualify them; the coaches and swimmers felt this was unjust. After protesting the decision, the Officials [under FINA laws] are not allowed to look at Live Stream Race Video footage as evidence so they would not reinstate the team. It left coaches and swimmers flabbergasted, but the day was still young, and the team quickly composed itself.

With pride, the Junior girls walked out to represent Talbot Heath in the National final, they all did a superb job to finish 7th overall in a new Academy Record time of 02:03.55, taking over 3 seconds off the previous best of 02:06.81.

The second session would see all teams compete in the 4 x 50m Medley Relay:

The Juniors were up first with Blossom on the Backstroke, Halle on Breaststroke, Bertie on Fly, and Daria on Freestyle.  The girls repeated their heat position finishing second which was enough to qualify 5th for their second final of the day.

In the Intermediate team, Erin led the team in the Backstroke, followed by Polly in Breast-stroke, Lottie in Fly, and Bea bringing it home in the Freestyle.  It was a great team swim with nearly each of the girls dipping two seconds under their long course PB times.  The team finished 26th overall.

A senior team, fuelled by the disappointment of the earlier disqualification also performed brilliantly, with Lilly taking the team out on the backstroke, followed by Betsy on Breast-stroke, Catherine on Butterfly, and Erin W on freestyle. The team improved their ranking and made 12th overall, narrowly missing the top 10 spots that made a final.

As this was the first time the newly formed Academy gained teams in the Intermediate and Senior Finals, all times set during the competition will count as new Academy Records.

Into the final, the Junior Girls of Blossom, Halle, Bertie, and Daria performed brilliantly, touching in fourth position, just shy of the medal positions, but it was again a new Academy Record of 2:15.93, 7 seconds up on the previous mark and an impressive step up from the heat.

Coach Barry commented: ‘We are very proud of the team's performances today. Within the space of 3 years (1 interrupted by COVID), we have been able to gain teams from the Academy to compete at National Level and we will keep on raising the bar.’

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