Sport

Pioneer’s swimmers enjoy gala success

A small number of swimmers from Pioneer 79 Swimming Club travelled over the Pennines to take part in the Derventio Excel February Festival

The Pioneer 79 team

A small number of swimmers from Pioneer 79 Swimming Club travelled over the Pennines to Ponds Forge International Swimming Pool in Sheffield recently to take part in the Derventio Excel February Festival. 

This Level 1 competition was heavily over-subscribed and there were actually more rejections than accepted entries, so to be accepted to compete was a huge achievement for their young swimmers. 

Not overawed with the level of competition, the Pioneer 79 Swimmers showed their ability to compete well against the best.

This gala would be the last chance for any of the club’s swimmers to achieve any outstanding Lancashire County Qualifying Times, as the closing date for entries was only a couple of days after this competition, but Regional and National Qualifying Times were also possible at this gala.

Natasha Rogan (11) competed in the 11 year age group and, taking part in 10 events over the course of the weekend, she returned with gold medals in the 50m/100m butterfly and 50m freestyle.

There were also silvers in the 200m butterfly, 50m backstroke, along with bronze medals in the 100m freestyle and 200m IM.

In previous competitions, Natasha has swam very close to the 100m butterfly NQT for her age group, so she decided to concentrate on her 100m butterfly split time on the 400m Individual Medley in an attempt to achieve her NQT of 1.11.82.

At the end of the Butterfly leg of the 400m IM, Natasha had achieved the NQT by just 0.07 seconds which was a huge achievement.

She went on to finish the 400m IM in a time of 5.52.77.

The 100m Butterfly event took place on the Sunday afternoon; having already achieved the NQT in the 400 IM, she went into the race very relaxed and improved her time to 1.10.81, bringing her over a second inside the NQT.

During the two days of competition, Natasha achieved one NQT, six RQTs and 10 LQTs.

Niamh Robinson (13) competed in the 13/14 year age group in 7 events.

In this age-group, all 100/200m events also had finals for the fastest 10 swimmers after the heats.

Niamh already has two NQTs under belt – the 100m and 200m breaststroke from previous competitions – but she has also shown potential to achieve further NQTs in other events.

Her first event was the 200m backstroke; finishing sixth fastest after her heats, she qualified for the final.

However, in the heat, she finished two seconds within the NQT required for her age in a time of 2.27.91, and with the advice from coach Mike Wilson, she withdrew from the final to concentrate on the possibility of achieving further NQTs.

Her next event was the 400m IM. Finishing ninth overall in her age group in a time of 5.19.56, she again achieved another NQT, by just over 0.5 of a second.

In the 100m breaststroke, Niamh re-achieved her NQT, but she was more than a second faster than her previous personal best, placing her eighth fastest for the final.

In the final, she improved her time even further into 1.17.35, recording another NQT.

On the second day, Niamh returned to the pool hungry for further success.

With three events left to swim, she was determined to carry on her successful streak.

In the 200m IM, she qualified seventh fastest for the final, but due to the fact she achieved her fifth NQT in a time of 2.30.38, she again decided to withdraw from the final.

The 100m backstroke saw Niamh finish in a time of 1.10.54, just missing her NQT by 0.3 seconds, finishing 11th overall.

Her final event of the competition was the 100m butterfly.

Having seen Natasha achieve her NQT in this event earlier in the heats, this spurred Niamh on.

She finished in a fantastic time of 1.08.72, three seconds faster than she had ever swam this event previously, and gained her sixth NQT.

Olivia Nicholls (12) swam six events over the two days and returned with four Regional Qualifying Times and six Lancashire Qualifying Times.

Joseph Murray (13) competed in two events and returned with two Lancashire Qualifying Times and two Regional Qualifying Times.

His younger sister, 12-year-old Abigail also swam superbly in all five of her events.

Ellie Ward (11) and Ellie Perris (12) each swam three events and achieved six Lancashire Qualifying Times between them.

For 12-year-old Eleanor Collin this was her first competition swimming for Pioneer 79.

Entering four events, she achieved four Lancashire Qualifying Times and one Regional Qualifying Time, winning a silver medal in the 100m backstroke in a time of 1.13.08.

Between all of the  eightswimmers there were eight National Qualifying Times, 20 Regional Qualifying Times and 26 Lancashire Qualifying Times recorded.

Head coach Michael Wilson said: “All the swimmers swam fantastic again against a really strong calibre field. To have our swimmers racing in the same competition as Olympians from London 2012 is a fantastic experience for the group and the hard work they put in week on week has been rewarded with so far the biggest number of County/Regional and National Championship Qualifiers the club has seen so far this season.”