Two teams from Parish Church Primary in Gainsborough were saluted after finishing in the top six at the prestigious East Midlands Schools’ Swimming Championships.
Although they missed out on a place in the national finals at Sheffield by a whisker, they were praised for “a fantastic achievement” by teacher and team coach John Anderson.
“It is testimony to the children that we were able to enter two teams who could compete at such a high level,” said Mr Anderson. “I would like to thank Gainsborough Dolphins for all their support in coaching the youngsters and I hope that, in a few years, we can get a team back to the national finals.”
The championships were staged by the English Schools’ Swimming Association at Louth and gave Parish the chance to test themselves against the best of teams from the counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire, as well as Lincolnshire.
Both teams started with the freestyle relay race, with each swimmer covering one length of the 25m pool before handing over to the next one. And both were in contention for a national finals place until the very last moment when they were touched off. One team finished fifth and the other sixth, with only the top three going through.
After a brief interval, the next challenges for Parish were the mixed stroke finals in which they had to swim a length of backstroke, breatstroke, butterfly and front crawl. This seemed to suit the teams better and they made a strong start, holding their own on the first two legs. Sadly, they were unable to hold on and finished in fourth and seventh positions.
One of the swimmers, Jake Thorold, was still delighted with the performances. “We tried so hard and everybody swam their best, but the other teams were so fast!” said Jake. “Our car had a flat tyre as well, so it was lucky we got there at all!”
Earlier the Parish swimmers also acquitted themselves well against 16 other schools in their age group (years five and six) at a school games tournament overseen by the Cherry Willingham Sports Partnership and held at Lincoln Priory Academy.
Alothough decimated by absences, the team were determined to do their best, even if it meant not being able to swim their favourite strokes, and they finished in second place, pipped to victory by just nine points by a school, Westgate Academy, of Lincoln, which is more than twice the size of Parish. They were later invited to compete at the county finals as the best runners-up from all Sports Partnership qualifiers across Lincolnshire but, unfortunately, they were unable to attend because of prior school commitments and could only dream of what might have been.
Meanwhile younger Parish children from years three and four also did well in an equivalent gala at Lincoln Priory Academy, even though many were making their competitive debuts. Showing speed and improved strokes, they finished in fifth place, out of 17 schools, and were only four points off the top three.