Despite the start of the new football season, the really big sporting news in the last week or so has been the Tadcaster campaign in the summer national championships at Ponds Forge. Tom Carswell flew the flag on his own for Tadcaster last year, but this year had company as Ellie Walker and Abby Parkinson had also qualified.
The summer championships comprise two separate galas: the British championships for the top 24 in the rankings in each age group in each event, with the English championships for the next 20 in the rankings. Tom had qualified for the 50 fly in the British event, as well as the 50 free, 50 back and 100 fly in the English event. Ellie and Abby were both in action in the English event, the former in the
50 free and the latter in the 50 free and 50 breast.
Whilst the action in the water from a Tadcaster perspective was primarily at the sprint end of the scale, the championships themselves are definitely a marathon, spread over nearly two weeks, with our swimmers in action across four different days.
Tom was in action first on Sunday 30th July, in the 50 fly, bagging a PB and a first sub 26s effort, a mere 0.02s off a place in the final for 12th place overall. Not for the first time, pronouncing “Tadcaster” caused some difficulties in the commentary box, with an extra syllable slipped in, which made the challenge of announcing all ten swimmers and their clubs before the race finished an even bigger challenge.
This set the scene nicely for Tad’s “Big Day Out” on the following Thursday, with all three swimmers in action. Whilst three swimmers in the same session may not sound like many, even City of Leeds only had seven swimmers on this day, so “Big Day Out” seems like a fair description! A feature of
national level events is that swimmers need their accreditation to be allowed access poolside. It was perhaps no surprise that Abby and Ellie found themselves on the wrong side of the security guards
without the important documents before they’d even raced! Luckily, spares had been printed “justin case” and they were soon safely in marshalling.
There’s not much to separate the swimmers in the sprint events, particularly the freestyle. If you like your quirky statistics then you’ll be impressed by the fact that in Abby’s heat there were 6 swimmerswith exactly the same entry time and that in a later heat of the same event, all 10 swimmers were within 0.05s. The finishes in all the heats were unsurprisingly very close and when the timing system had unravelled the successive blanket finishes, the good news was that Tom, Ellie and Abby were safely through to their 50 free finals. Tom was in action again shortly afterwards in the 100 fly but didn’t add to his tally of finals berths.
It was 1030 am by this point and another marathon ensued in the form of killing time until the finals started at 5pm. Whilst this was definitely a good problem to have, there’s only so many friends and family members that can be texted with good news and so many selfies that can be taken, so it was a relief for the parents when the queues began to form, first to buy tickets and then to get back into the viewing gallery. There was giddy excitement when the warm up finally began!
The Tad swimmers had very different styles when parading out for their finals and waiting behind their blocks. Tom emerged looking as outwardly calm as a Zen Master. Abby bounced around behind her block like Tigger having overdosed on Red Bull. Ellie was so laid back that she even had time to wave to friends in the gallery when her name was announced. In the water, Tom came closest tobagging a medal, finishing 5th, Ellie came home 6th with a PB and Abby finished 8th. Unlike at the
NERs, where the swimmers avoided a post-gala photo-call, this time they were compelled to pose for this particularly fine example of the “Coach attacks swimmer with toy shark” genre.
Tom (50 back) and Abby (50 breast) were back in action on the Friday and Saturday respectively but couldn’t repeat their heroics from the Thursday so did not contest the finals. Despite this rather flat ending, Tad’s “nationals campaign” was pretty successful with a lot of experience gained, both for the swimmers themselves and to be passed on to club mates who may step up in the future.