Each year swimmers from across the Nation to converge on the hallowed ground of British swimming – Ponds Forge in Sheffield for the National Summer Championships. This year Mid Sussex Marlins swimming club had 6 qualifiers in 17 events across the 11 days of competition. This is historically high for a Sussex club but does show how performance is progressing at the club and in the county.
Rachael Bowen, Robin Boyden, Georgie Gratton, Charlotte Johnson, Sophie Maguire and Sophie Shaw all qualified to compete in Sheffield. Robin, Charlotte and Sophie Maguire were first time qualifiers whilst Rachael, Georgie and Sophie Shaw were returning to Nationals having qualified in previous years.
The Championships kicked off in style with a new pb, finals spot and Open County Record for Sophie Shaw in the 100m backstroke. It was the first time Sophie had reached a British summer champs final and made her the fastest ever female 100m backstroker from Sussex. Sophie Maguire and Charlotte Johnson also had strong swims in their first ever national races with Charlotte improving on her ranking in the 800m freestyle.
As the week progressed we saw another County record from Sophie Shaw in the 50m backstroke (u/16 record). Sophie made the final once again and placed 7th in a very tight race where only a few strokes separated the field. Sophie Maguire also contested the 50m backstroke with Charlotte Johnson just outside a finals place in the 400m free.
The National Championships are a great chance to compete against the bests swimmers in the country and also serve as a unique learning experience – one which is difficult to replicate elsewhere. Going into the 2nd week of Nationals the swimmers now had that experience and the results started to show!
Charlotte Johnson was the first to take on events at the English Summer championships contesting the 200m free and 400m IM in the same session. Charlotte kicked off her racing with the 200m free, achieving a new pb, county record (u/14) and qualifying for the final. About an hour later Charlotte was back in the water for the 400m IM where she set another pb, club and county record (u/14) and made the final. Charlotte stepped up for the 200m free final, fought hard all the way and was home in 4th, just outside a medal but in another new pb and county record time! Later in the session Charlotte swam the 400m IM final, it was a great effort and despite the fatigue factor she managed another solid placing and swam just off her heat time. A truly great example of how hard work can make anything possible.
Next up Georgie Gratton raced the 50m backstroke qualifying for the final in a strong time, just outside the club open record Sophie Shaw had set the previous week. Georgie stepped up and swam a great final improving her time and place as well as getting a new open club record and a new pb. Georgie was delighted with her new pb of 30.51, commenting that it had been a while coming!
Rachael Bowen swam in the 50m breaststroke the next day and also qualified for the final in a new pb, going under 34 seconds for the first time long course. Later on Rachael stepped up in the final to take the bronze medal in a new pb and open club record of 33.7. Rachael is relatively new to racing breaststroke making this is a great achievement.
We reached the final day of the National Summer championships. Mid Sussex had 4 swimmers competing on the final day (Sophie Maguire, Sophie Shaw, Rachael Bowen, Robin Boyden). The day was predicted to be “Super Sunday” and the swimmers lived up to this name in full.
First up Sophie Shaw and Sophie Maguire both qualified for the 200m backstroke finals in their respective age groups swiftly followed up by Robin Boyden racing at his first nationals setting a new pb in the 50m fly and qualifying for the final! We then had three girls in the last heat of the women 50m fly event with Sophie Shaw and Rachael Bowen also both making the final qualifying 8th and 1st respectively.
The finals session kicked off with Robin Boyden lined up in lane 7. Robin raced hard and held his place on his time from the heats, showing great confidence racing at this level for the first time. Next up came Sophie Shaw swimming in the outside lane with something to prove. Sophie blasted the 50m fly final and produced a massive pb, improving on the heat and taking the silver medal from lane 9! A couple of finals later and we had Rachael Bowen in lane 4 ready to race the 50m fly. Rachael started well, held stroke rate and form and smashed out a new pb time and county open record to take the gold medal! It was a great swim and great achievement to swim 27.7 (the fastest ever 50m fly from a Sussex female swimmer).
The last finals events saw Sophie Shaw and Sophie Maguire take on the 200m back 15 year and 16 year finals respectively. Sophie Shaw stepped up, hit her race plan and set a new pb, club open record and county record (u/16) to take 4th place in 2.23.17. Our last final and swim at Nationals saw Sophie Maguire take the race out determined to push hard and make her mark on the final. Sophie held her pace and executed her race plan coming home strong to take the bronze medal in a new pb time and 9 seconds faster than her pb from the beginning of the year!
Coach Stephen Murphy summarised the event for Marlins: We are extremely proud of the swimmers and our results that we achieved at Nationals this season. It is a great step forward and progression on last season and our performance is really rising. Collectively our team achieved 4 medals, 11 finals, 11 county records, numerous pb time’s and club records but importantly every swimmer that qualified made a final. This shows belief, self confidence and the ability to step up when it counts. I hope these performances inspire all in our club to push forward, believe and achieve their goals. Hard work and commitment really does pay off.