On Sunday, April 22nd, City of Oxford Swimming Club (COSC) made club history by competing for the second consecutive year 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 top performance clubs as Millfield, Guildford City, and Plymouth Leander, City of Oxfordsecured a 6thplace finish. The five clubs finishing in front of Oxford have regular training access to long course swimming pools which gave them a significant advantage in the final which took place in Cardiff’s international long course 50m pool.
Armed with horns, flags, face paint and bull mascots COSC’s Raging Bullswere ready to show that they came to fight in this arena of top UK club’s swimming talent.
Out of the 50 races, COSC secured 11 top 3 places. The first win came from Illazane Pinfoldin the Girls13/u 100m breaststroke event;a great result coming almost immediately after she helped her team mates, Lara Mills, Evie McClean and Gretel Goodgame,secure 2nd place in the Girls 13/u 4x50m Medley.The same team went on to secure 3rd place later in the afternoon in the 4x50m freestyle event.
Oxford’s other top three place finishes came from veteran David Murphywinning the Men’s open 100m breaststroke; Nick Skelton (Boys15/u backstroke)andKayden Sillah (Boys 11/u 50m br/stroke)whoboth just missed first place by a finger tip touch. The strength of Oxford’s breast strokers at the moment was further demonstrated by Billy Wooton(2nd in the Boys 15/u br/stroke); Morgan Smith‘stealing’ 6 places and finishing 3rd (predicted 9th) in the Boys 13/u 100m br/stroke and Emily Wooddelivering a surprise third place in the Ladies Open 100n br/stroke. Female veteran Kate Millsturned the tables again in the Ladies 100m fly with a 3rd place (predicted 7th) and Evie McClean, refusing to be kept out of the top three, stole two places (predicted 5th) in the Girl’s 15/u 100m freestyle adding some valuable points for City of Oxford.
As the results show, every COSC swimmer participating in the National Arena League final gave their all, as every point counted, and as a result Oxford bettered their expected finish position in 26 of the 50 races.
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 6thplace finish is a huge 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.
Recognition also goes to the coaches Amanda Booth, Fabian Whitbread and Zichen Liu for their hard work in enabling this significant achievement.
As with any National level competition, the difference between coming in first and last comes down to a few points (or milliseconds). Plymouth Leander came back this year to win comfortably with 427 points pushing Guildford City (2016 winners) in to 2nd place with 344 points and last year’s winners, Millfield, finishing 3rd (318 points).