NATIONAL ARENA SWIMMING LEAGUE B FINAL
City of Oxford swimming club qualified for the National Arena League finals for the first time in the 70 year history of the club. The club, who were fighting relegation from the Premier Division South in 2009, finished 3rd in the divisional finals to qualify for their historic place in the National B final. The prestigious competition attracts the Country’s top swimming clubs who bring in their Olympic, Commonwealth and World medallists to compete for the top positions. In Saturday’s final, held at the Cardiff International Swimming Pool, City competed against Sheffield, Cardiff, Swansea, Liverpool, Northampton, Thanet, Ealing, Preston and Boldermere.
The hotly fought contest saw City’s swimmers swim personal best times in 26 out of 35 individual races with all 15 of the relay teams improving their times from previous rounds. The 15 and under girls 4 x 50m freestyle team of Ellie Millington, Emily Nisbet, Olivia Webster and Amy Coombs broke the Junior and Open County record in a time of 1:50.33 whilst Emily Wood and Annie Sharp joined Millington and Coombs in the 4 x 50m medley relay to take the Junior County record in 2.01.88. The Women’s Open 4 x50m medley relay team of Shannon Motha, Wood, Millington and Eleanor McNally then broke the County Open record in 2.00.36. Not to be outdone, the boys 15 and under 4 x 50m freestyle relay team of Ewan Springett, Zac Bischoff, Lewis Pearce and Chris Wood broke both the Open and Junior County records in 1.43.45 with Callum Smart joining Springett, Pearce and Wood in the 4 x 50m medley relay to break the Junior County record in 1.55.83. (All records still to be ratified)
15 year old Emily Wood continued the record breaking form taking the Junior County 100m breaststroke record in 1.13.07. Wood was also awarded the coveted trophy for top performance by a 15 year old girl.
The competition saw Sheffield and Cardiff holding a narrow lead from Oxford, Swansea and Liverpool who were locked in a fierce tussle for 3rd place. As the final relays developed, just 4 points separated the three clubs battling for 3rd place. The electric atmosphere in the pool, the club’s enthusiastic supporters and the stunning performances from all of City’s swimmers saw the club finish an incredible 4th place overall, just 4 points behind 3rd placed Swansea Aquatics. An amazing achievement for the club’s first ever appearance in the final.
The final positions were Sheffield 367, Cardiff 341, Swansea 300, Oxford 296, Liverpool 293, Northampton 252, Thanet 247, Ealing 234, Preston 216, Boldmere 205.