SWIMMING: Arena League promotion final

Rugby Swimming Club's Arena League team
Rugby Swimming Club's Arena League team

Rugby team misses out by just a point

Rugby battled all the way to the final stroke, of the final race, but ultimately fell tantalisingly short by the smallest of margins as they finished 5th in the promotion final.

The final saw the top three teams from the North Midlands and three from the South, fighting for the four promotion places. The final results were, Hinckley 206, Lindslade Crusaders 170, Leighton Buzzard and Derby Phoenix on 168, all being promoted with Rugby 5th with 167, Radford 163, 6th. Unfortunately one relay disqualification in the second round of relays, meant Rugby lost the 5 points for finishing second, and obviously those who finished behind, also moved up one place and an additional point. The 5 points would have meant Rugby would have finished 2nd and been promoted.

All throughout the gala, Hinckley held the lead, but the next four places were almost interchangeable, with never more than 10 points separating these teams.

On a positive note the hard work and commitment shown by all the coaches and swimmers alike means Rugby has over a dozen swimmers either achieving the Midlands regional times, or knocking on the proverbial door, already this year. This is up from four last year, so progress is being made. This time last year Rugby finished the league in 8th place, and a promotion final was a distant dream. Great credit must go to head coach Hemesh Chohen, who is masterminding the improvements, with new training methods, land training, and the promise of visiting specialist national coaches in the near future.

Individual wins were understandably hard to come by, but Matthew Seaton showed his class, by winning both the 50m Back and Freestyle by clear margins in the 11s. Megan Williams clocked a 1.16 for 100m Fly to win the girls’ 13s race, and Club President Ross Turner went all out in the 100m Breaststroke to win by 3/10ths of a second.

Valuable seconds were recorded by Adam Wanless in the 11s 50m Fly, Gleb Popov in the 15s 100m Fly, Megan in the 13s 100m Freestyle, her 1.06 being matched by Rhys James in the boys’ equivalent, Rhys just 0.2 seconds faster. Hopefully their rivalry will continue to push both to faster times.

Finally Tom Parker continued his great from, clocking a 1.15 in the 15s Breaststroke to complete the seconds. If the race had been a few metres longer he may have won, as he was coming back fast.

Securing third place were Ellen Harrington, Ellen Armeson, Matt Seaton, Luke Anspoks, Jack Carey, Noah Slinn, and Anna Shepherd, who all scored crucial points.

The relays also proved extremely competitive, with all teams buoyed on by the very large and loud crowd, though maybe the cowbell being run constantly by one team being a tad over the top. The standard in the relays can be seen by the fact there were only three take-over infringements all afternoon, across the six teams and 20 relays.

Winning these races is a huge boost for the club, as they are team events, and the watching Rugby swimmers were right behind every swimmer in the pool, urging them on. The boys 11s freestyle relay were the only team to come out on top, with Dan Carey joining the others mentioned above to win by 4 seconds. Team spirit and teamwork are a real emphasis this year, and this was shown, as all swimmers stayed to the end to cheer the team on.

Seconds were recorded by the boys 13s Medley and Free teams, with Matt swimming up, William Dunnerdale, Jack and “Big Rhys”. The Girls 11s Freestyle, Eva Rath, Ceri House, Isobel Dunnerdale, and Georgia Godding, and the boys 15s Medley team of Tom, Noah, Gleb and Matt Laity.

Thirds were more commonplace, with the girls 11s, and 13s, 15s and the boys 15s adding to their other successes. The ‘senior’ men’s team showed how a mixture of youth and experience can also compete, finishing 3rd in both their relays, Dan Hartup, Dave Hepworth being the youth with Ross and Simon Rigg being the experience. Ross clocking possibly the leg of the day, over all ages, on the breaststroke going inside 30 secs, also both he and Simon posted 25s for the freestyle.

Having made the final for the first time in several years it is agonising to miss out, especially by such a small margin, but whilst the team has improved and has increased strength in depth, there are still age groups which are dangerously thin on the ground. Some new swimmers have joined the club over recent weeks, and more are welcome, starting from the 7 and 8 year olds, but also those joining in the higher age groups. For example it would be great to report for once, that Rugby didn’t require any swimmers to swim up an age group, as we had enough to cover all the races (and I could retire!).

If you want to be part of the Rugby resurgence, please contact us on swimming@rugbyswimmingclub.co.uk, or pop into one of our training sessions at RSSC and QDLC.

Simon Rigg