On Sunday, April 9th, City of Oxford Swimming Club (COSC) made club history by competing for the very first time in the National Arena League A Final, securing their position as one of the top 10 competitive swimming clubs in the United Kingdom. Competing against such heavy weight clubs as Millfield, Guildford City, Plymouth Leander and City of Cardiff, City of Oxford secured a 6th place finish, beating other south division clubs Wycombe District by 6 points (265 vs. 259) and their other regular rival City of Milton Keynes, who came in 9th with 175 points.
Head Coach Amanda Booth comments, “finishing 6th in National Arena League Cup Final is a tremendous achievement for the Club and is testament to the dedication and hard work of our swimmers, coaches and volunteers”.
As if heading to an FA cup final, COSC left their home competition pool at Leys Pools and Leisure Centre for Cardiff International Pool with two coaches filled with 42 swimmers, 4 coaches, 2 team managers, and over 70 supporters. Armed with drums, horns, flags, face paint, two bull mascots and their very own cheer leaders, COSC’s Raging Bulls were ready to show that they came to fight in this arena of high calibre swimming.
Competition veterans Emily Wood and David Murphy started the Arena League battle in style coming in 4th and 3rd respectively in the open category 200IM. Both Emily and David managed to “steal” a few places and precious points from our competitors. This would be the theme for most of the day, with 23 out of the 50 races coming in quicker than predicted. Some of the biggest steals came from Daniel Jenkins who came in second in the Boys 15 and under 100m freestyle event (predicted 5th) and Emily Wood who came in 4th in the ladies Open 200IM (predicted 9th) and 2nd in the ladies open 100m breaststroke (predicted 6th).
Out of the 50 races, COSC secured 4 first place finishes, 2 second place finishes, 5 third place finishes and 9 fourth place finishes. The first, first place win came from 13-year-old Billy Wotton in the Boys 13/u 100m breaststroke event. He won his heat with an impressive time of 1:10.73. Billy swam breaststroke in the Boys 13/u medley relay helping teammates Nick Skelton, Diego Bravo and Mihailo Petrovic achieve a fantastic third place finish with a time of 2:02.98.
Our other first place finishes came from Daniel Jenkins who won the Boys 15/u 100m backstroke in 1:00.56, David Murphy who won the Men’s open 100m breaststroke in 1:02.61 and Nick Skelton who won the Boys 13/u 100m backstroke. Nick was also awarded the Boys 13/u best in age group award (photo below).
COSC’s female swimmers also shone in Cardiff, with Delphine Little coming third in the Girls13/u 100 freestyle event with a time of 1:02.15. Delphine also helped her Girls 13/u 50 freestyle relay team of Evie Mclean, Safiya Sillah, and Megan Smit achieve a 4th place finish after having already swum in 4 events!
As the results show, every COSC swimmer that attended the National Arena League final gave their all as every point counted. Nationally, over 350 clubs take part in the National Arena League; being a part of the top 10 clubs to qualify for the National A final and achieving a 6th place finish is a credit to the club’s depth of swimming talent (from the youngest 11/u to the senior swimmers), strength of our coaching team, and passion and support of our parents and volunteers.
We would like to thank coaches Amanda Booth, Kyle Frantzeskou, Fabian Whitbread and Zichen Liu, team managers Francois Smit and Suze Skelton, and our officials Gill Cadle, Martin Conway and John Gould for all their support. We are especially grateful to our fantastic bull mascots George Rudd and Logan Bryan who kept the team spirit pumping with their continuous high energy!
As with any National level competition, the difference between coming in first and last comes down to a few points (or a few milliseconds). Millfield won their second cup final with 402 points having last won in 2005. They beat regular winners Plymouth Leander (338 points), home club City of Cardiff (319 points) and last year’s winners Guildford City (318 points).
Full results for Sunday’s event can be found here:
And the splits and COSC results can be found here: