First round of the National League
Rugby travelled to the new Leisure Centre at Harborne, Birmingham for the first round of the National League, and came away with a resounding victory. Just to counter some recent criticism of the new Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Centre, the equivalent Centre here, was distinctly inferior in many ways, not least having a car park for 20 cars only.
Rugby were clear winners in this Gala, as the club continues its upwards curve of late. What was particularly pleasing is the increased strength in depth of performances across the board. The only 4th places recorded all evening were from swimmers swimming up an age group or indeed two age groups. Camp Hill fielded an Olympic trialist from the 2012 London games, who happened to be in two of these races.
The improvement cross the board, can be seen by not only individual performances, but more so by the relays, which requires all four swimmers to contribute; four good swimmers with well drilled take overs will beat a superstar and three average swimmers.
The other teams had one or two “superstars” but Rugby had our own and also had greater strength across the board. This was proved as Rugby won 9 out of the 16 relays, which would have been 11 but for one harsh and one dubious DQ for takeover infringements.
The boys 11s, Paul Skerbakovs, Aaron Kirkaldy, Adam Wanless and Matt Seaton, won the free relay, and were well clear in the medley relay only to be DQd. The girls 13s of Ellen Armeson, Ellen Harrington, Megan Williams and Olivia Guyatt, won both relays with ease. Matched by the 13s boys team of Max Markham, Will, Dunnerdale, Jack Carey and Big Rhys James, and the senior men’s team of Dan Hartup, Ross Turner, Dave Hepworth and Simon Rigg, who won the medley, and joined by Noah Slinn, and Matt Laity the 6x50 free cannon as well. Noah, Matt, Thomas Parker and Gleb Popov won both relays by over a length, in the 15s, but were DQd in one for an early change, a lesson to learn for the boys.
These were backed up by the 11s girls who were second in both, the girls 15s second in the medley, and the senior ladies in the 6x50 cannon, who ran Camp Hill all the way, despite the afore mentioned ex International.
Individual winners were also plentiful, with Matt Seaton in the 11s, winning his back and free by a substantial distance, Noah won the 100 free and back by even further in the 15s, Anna Shepherd in the 15s, 100 breaststroke and freestyle, the freestyle by not breathing in the last 10m to win by 0.1 seconds. Big Rhys also won both his 100 freestyle and fly in the 15s, despite running county cross country in the morning. Those winning one event were Eva Rath, 11s 50m back, Adam Wanless,11s 50m fly, Ellen A,13s 100m back, Gleb Popov, the 15s 100m fly and Thomas Parker, the 15s 100m breaststroke.
Second places, several of the above also finished second in addition to the wins above, but additionally Dave Hepworth in the men’s 100m fly, Ceri House in the 11s free and Br, Ellen Harrington 13s 100m breaststroke, and just to balance out the youth, the experience of Karen Bates, secured three seconds, in the IM, back and Fly, Ross Turner in the men’s 100m Back and Br, and Simon Rigg in the men’s 100m free.
Overall a very creditable performance, an clear victory, and excellent teamwork, meant Rugby go into the next round in a few weeks, with confidence high, and in the hope of a home draw to show case the QDJC.