It was the turn of the younger Oxford swimmers, age 12 and under, to represent the city in the first round of the Milton Keynes Junior League on Saturday 3rd June. Despite its name, this annual gala serves to bring together teams from all over the area to compete in ‘A’ and ‘B’ leagues for the regional junior team title.
The Oxford A team were at home hosting the first round and were drawn against Maxwell, Chalfont, Teddington, Windsor and Wantage.
The 12 year-old girls (Megan Peake, Ellen Bagley, Willa Merttens and Lily Brabbin) threw down the gauntlet by winning their medley relay – the first event of the night. The 11 year-old boys (Ethan Bird, Kayden Sillah, Lachlan Middleton and Mathew Critchley) continued the winning streak finishing first in both the freestyle and medley relays. The first half relay race successes were completed with the 10year-old girls (Pearl Sophastienphong, Zara Porter, Emma Sherwood and Bella Green) over taking the opposition in a nail-biting last ‘leg’ to touch in first place.
After 26 events, the Oxford team had amassed 96 points and were in 3rd place behind Windsor, with Teddington in the lead. Some good personal best times from a number of swimmers in the individual races helped the score line and included Pearl Sophastienphong’s double firsts in the 10 year old girl’s 50m backstroke and 50m freestyle. Lachlan Middleton followed for the boys taking first place in the 11 year-old 50m butterfly.
The Oxford A team showed its strength in breaststroke with both Ellen Bagley and Ollie Conway winning decisively in the 12 year-old girls and boys 50m races; and again in the 11 year-old boys individual race, Kayden Sillah swam strongly to seize first place. Completing the individual wins, Zara Porter put clear blue water between her and the opposition in the 50m butterfly.
After the final canon relay Oxford A had notched up a total of 11 first places – more than any team apart from the winners, Teddington. The higher number of second places by Windsor resulted in Oxford A being squeezed into third place with 195 points – missing out on second place in this round by just one point.
With more rounds to go over the next few months this was the start of what is clearly going to be an exciting contest. All the Oxford junior swimmers acquitted themselves well – this was great teamwork for parents, coaches and officials too who all pulled together and worked hard to ensure that City of Oxford’s hosting of this competition went like clockwork.
Special thanks to Fiona Hilton for co-ordinating the event.