The University of Manchester swim team have had an amazing start to the new season, beginning with the BUSA Team Northern Heats and the BUSA Short Course Championships in recent weeks.
The heats took place in Birmingham on 5th November, and with a good mix of experience and youth we provided some fireworks in the pool. The efforts of the squad meant we finished in 3rd position, only behind the sporting giants of Loughborough and Birmingham. The top three finish ensured our progression into the British finals in April. It was a superb result and this was the platform for the Short Course Championships in Sheffield last week.
The weekend in South Yorkshire began on the Friday night with some brilliant performances. Debutant Erica Brown finished 4th in the 800m freestyle, something she would call a sprint, as she is better known as an open-water swimmer, usually competing over 5km! If you think that's a long distance, David Proud is about to compete over 25km (about 1000 lengths of the Aquatics Centre Pool). He considered his 1500m race (only 60 lengths) a sprint. His 4th place finish, coupled with both men's and women's freestyle relay teams qualifying convincingly for their respective finals completed a good first session.
We were up early the following morning for an 8.15 warm up. The day produced six finalists with personal bests from James Murray, who broke the minute barrier in the 100m butterfly, and Ben Fulford for the 50m backstroke. With such a good day of heat swims, we approached the evening session full of hope, and we were not disappointed. Jill Nesbitt set the standard for the rest to pursue, finishing 5th in the women's 200m freestyle. Graeme Smith followed this with a 6th place in the men's 200m freestyle. We had a succession of closely fought 5th places with Lucy Lloyd-Roach (50m backstroke) and Abi Tetley (100m butterfly, 50m freestyle). Tetley achieved PBs in every race she swam over the weekend. Brown also captured a PB in the 400m individual medley.
Saturday was brought to a close with the freestyle relays. Both teams smashed university record times, the men finishing 6th, the girls going one better in 5th position. Fulford brought the men's squad home with a storming anchor leg to ensure we beat Manchester Met!
On Sunday morning, we attempted to cure our hangovers with an early swim in the pool. The morning produced eight finalists and notable performances from Rachel Bates who narrowly missed out on a final appearance. Smith, still slightly worse for wear managed to come 7th in the 100m freestyle. The afternoon saw the climax to the weekend with more finals. Nesbitt set the pace with a 6th (200m butterfly); Tetley attained a close 4th (100m freestyle). Marie Jones, made of incredibly strong stuff performed sensationally, swimming through illness to finish 4th in the 200m individual medley. Lloyd-Roach swum a PB, this time in the 100m backstroke. Nesbitt and Brown finished 5th and 6th in the 400m freestyle, and in the men's event, Smith came 6th.
The evening culminated with the medley relay finals. Both teams smashed university records again: the women's team finished 4th, the men 7th.
The weekend efforts were rewarded with an overall finish of 6th, only finishing behind teams who train three times as much as Manchester. The women did outstandingly well to finish second, only to Loughborough. A big thank you and congratulations go to all involved, not least coach Tim Konowalik.