SWIMMING: Fantastic team effort to top Leicester League final

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Simon swims last league race for club - 43 years since his debut

Rugby Swimming Club

Sometimes swimming is about an all weekend Open meet, with its 74 heats of girls’ 200m freestyle, all racing as individuals for a time on rankings, and other times it is a team game, where a disparate team of individuals work as a unit to overcome others with maybe less desire to fight for each other.

Rugby ‘B’ were ranked 6th of the six teams going into the C final of the Leicester league last Saturday night. A coach trip of over 90 minutes or so, saw the team-building grow with some impromptu Christmas song singing. (I use the word singing loosely, admittedly, and I feel we need to apologise to Wham, Band-Aid, Chris Rea and Wizard for murdering their songs!)

This type of event is not about your star swimmers winning their events, it is about the eight-year-old swimming in their first gala, finishing 4th or 5th rather than 6th, to gain those few potentially valuable points.

This is where Rugby won this event, not one DQ all night, given the number of novices, this was remarkable, coupled with having a swimmer in every race, ensured points were maximised.

Great credit, here must go to Team Manager and Coach Darren O’Brien, who cobbled this team together, ranging from barely eight years of age, in their first ever gala, to swimmers the wrong side of 50, perhaps swimming their last.

Darren was ably assisted on poolside by new Chair Michael Moran, and another well disguised ‘novice’, Alison Morris, who ensured every swimmer was in the right place at the right time.

The Gala turned into a two-horse race, with Rugby and Leicester Sharks, neck and neck all night, with Burton and to a lesser extent Neptune throwing up the occasional winner.

The lead changed hands all night, and on two mid-point points-tallies Rugby and Sharks were level. Going into the last round of relays, Rugby had slipped six points behind.

But this was where the team spirit came through. Whilst Sharks couldn’t muster a team for two of the eightrelays, Rugby had a team in every race. Several swimmers, swam in their own age group, and then swam two races later in the next age group up. Especially difficult for the 8s and 9s, as they go from swimming 25m in their own age to 50m in the next age group up.

Sharks won 24 races to Rugby’s 18, but the roles were reversed with 13 to 21 seconds, 3rds and 4ths were basically the same, the main difference being Sharks had two 6s and three no starts, whereas Rugby never finished outside the top four.

Crucially this was the factor that meant Rugby went home via MacDonalds to enjoy a McFlurry! Thanks to the bus driver for allowing this, and the club for paying.

As is my tradition on these occasions, no mention of individual races as this is a team event and a team result, so the Rugby team was, 10&U girls, Alexa Holland, Sienna Moran, Isabel Brand, Lucy Carlyon, boys, George Morris, Charlie Pratt, Marco Rodrigues-Hernandez. 12&U girls, Izzy Hobbs Morgan Brand, Libby O’Brien, Yanna Vallasis, boys, Ethan Capelett, Jamie Capelett, Yuriy Panteyev and Will Stamp. 14s girls Erin Moran, Briony Dew, Anna Rath Juanola, Clara Haywood, boys, Joshua Flynn and Jake Smith.

Finally the senior ladies, were, Ceri House, Ellen Armeson, Maya Patchett-Smyth, and Jasmine Rigg, and the senior men, where Aaron Kirkaldy, Devesh Chohen, Max Taylor and Simon Rigg.

Darren thanked everybody on the bus for the great evening and also confirmed it will be Simon’s last league swim for the club. Simon made his debut, in what was then the speedo league in 1975, aged eight, and some 43 years later, with the club back up to over 150 speed swimmers, he feels it is time to ensure the teenage lads all get a chance to swim.

Simon has seen most of the highs and lows of the club over the years, from promotions, relegations, trophy wins, trophy losses, and some of the clubs greatest evenings.

Simon said: “This may have been ‘Gala C’ of the Leicester league, but it ranks as one of the top team efforts in all those years from RSC, and I can’t think of a better time to the hand over the (proverbial) relay baton to the younger lads.”