WITNEY DEVELOPMENT GALA-” fun, fiery, fast and furious”
With some of our younger swimmers resting from other competitions to focus on the County Championships there were a number of new faces at this away gala and they seized the opportunity to strut their stuff; a special mention to ‘first timers’-Zara Porter, Edward Bewes, Barnaby Turner, Jude Prichard, Kayden Sillah and Daisy Preston.
This was a local team competition hosted by Witney, with COSC and 4 other Oxfordshire clubs (Abingdon, Wantage, Bicester and Henley) and comprised a real variety of individual and team events (including the challenging 4x25m butterfly mixed relay!). From the outset the atmosphere crackled and as the evening developed the noise got louder and louder with the partisan team fans shouting and waving their team mates on. By the end, with the 12x25m freestyle mixed Canon event underway, it evoked a football cup final with the fans on their feet (at this meeting on poolside with the officials) cheering every stroke of the way.
Oxford threw down the gauntlet in the first race with the girls 8-9 years 4x25m front crawl relay team
(Maisie Kavanagh, Juliet Anthony, Zara Porter and Tilly Boyns) winning decisively. By the end of the first 25 events Oxford were running a close second to a strong Abingdon squad with great wins by the boys 11 years front crawl team (Ben Holmes, Stan Prichard, Dylan Holiday and James Brooks); an 8-9 year old girl/boy win double in the individual 50m front crawl events through Juliet Anthony and Lachlan Middleton; Abi Hobbins swimming the perfect race to win the girls 10 years I.M followed by Ellen Tranter putting lots of clear blue(ish) water between her and the rest of the swimmers to take first in the girls 11 years 50m butterfly. Fingertip 1st place finishes by Ella Joyce and Abi Hobbins, both in winning form, in the 8-9 and 10 years 50m breaststroke kept us on the edge of our seats. The loudest cheers of the first session went to Rebekka Smit and Ethan Bird as they stormed to individual victories in the 8-9 years girl’s and boy’s 50 m backstroke events.The second half saw a good swim and individual win for Ben Holmes (boys 11 years 50m front crawl). The girls scored victories with Mary Cater (8-9 years 50m butterfly); Abi Turner (11 years 50m breaststroke); Ella Joyce again (8-9 years 100m I.M.) and Edie Godfrey( 11 years 50m backstroke). However, despite decisive half- length wins in the 4x25m Medley relays by both the 8-9 year old boys (Ethan Bird, Kayden Sillah, Lochland Middleton, Edward Bewes) and girls (Ella Joyce, Tilly Boyns, Mary Cater and Juliet Anthony) Oxford couldn’t reel Abingdon in (188 points overall winners) and finished the night in second place with 165 points;45 points ahead of Witney in 3rd.
A great night with some superb swimming – a fantastic team spirit and a memorable experience for us all. Special ‘thank -you(s)’ to Liz B for her thoughtful team selection, coaching and support to all the swimmers on the night; our older swimmers, Delphine Little, Safia Sillah and Megan Smit who gave up their evening to help Liz; to Gill Cadle, Deb Smit, Karen Underwood, Karen Holiday and J.D. for volunteering to officiate on our behalf and last but not least, Pete Valdiserri and Ian Prichard for managing the 35 strong team brilliantly-every swimmer was in the right place at the right time which is not an easy task.
The full results and official times will be posted separately by Liz-we anticipate lots of P.B.s!