POOL SHARKS: MANCHESTER SWIMMING TEAM ACHIEVE SHOCK SECOND PLACE AT BUSA by Lucy Lloyd-Roach and Marie Jones
After failing to make the BUSA National Swimming Team Championship Grand Final in 2005, the University of Manchester Swimming team were back on form when qualifying for the finals in 2006.
The regional round saw Manchester finishing third behind Loughborough and Birmingham. Five months later, a team consisting of a mixture of first-time finalists and those who swam in 2004 when finishing 6th, travelled to Nottingham to compete in the final proper.
The women's medley relay team consisting of Lucy Lloyd-Roach, Marie Jones, Rachel Bates, and Abi Tetley, set the standard for the rest of the afternoon, finishing a comfortable second behind Loughborough.
The men's medley team of Gavin Hunter, Matt Moody, James Murray and Ben Fulford followed this up with a strong performance in their relay.
Outstanding individual swims came from Ryan Sanders in the 100m individual medley who was returning from a bout of illness; Tetley came 2nd in the 50m and 100m freestyle and 3rd behind two Commonwealth gold medallists in the 200m; Graeme Smith, feeling slightly worse for wear, pulled out an awesome swim in 100m freestyle to come 2nd; Lloyd-Roach came 2nd in both the 50m and 100m backstroke and Hunter set some new club records in both backstroke events.
At the halfway mark Manchester were a surprising third just in front of Birmingham; it was going to be a close second half with every point counting.
The team responded well to the chance of a medal, which was possibly aided by Moody's motivational words of wisdom. More exceptional swims followed from Murray in the butterfly events, edging out Birmingham in both; Bates also swam well in the women's butterfly events; Franki Peers swam a season's best in the 50m breaststroke and Moody motivated by his beloved Middlesbrough's performance in the UEFA Cup, finished his university career with a solid swim.
The last events of the competition were the freestyle relays. The women finished as they started with a second place that was secured by an amazing finish by Jones who beat Birmingham to the wall by a hundredth of a second. The men's team consisting of Smith, Murray, Sean Peers and Fulford provided the final touch to a successful day.
With all the swimming done the one remaining question was, 'had Manchester done enough to beat Birmingham to the third spot?' After a tense ten minutes of waiting the final results were announced. In fourth place was Birmingham. Manchester had done it! In third place... Bath?! This meant that the team had not only done the unexpected and medalled, but had gone further and achieved second place to almighty Loughborough!
Special thanks to Tim Konowalik the motivational coach, the exceptional supporters and the trusty minibus drivers.