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Swimming squad in national relay action

The Priory's intermediate girls swimming squad missed out by one hundredth of a second on a place in the last eight at the Secondary Schools National Finals at Crystal Palace.

  The Priory's intermediate girls swimming squad returned with pride from the prestigious ESSA Secondary Schools National Finals at Crystal Palace.

Captain Lucy Porter stood proudly in the parade to represent us alongside Harrow, Plymouth, Millfield, Kelly College and Guildford to name but a few of the high-calibre teams present at the event.

  Joining Lucy in the Priory squad were Abigail Burr (top left), Gabrielle Vickers (top right) and Tara Hawaorth (bottom left).

The first event for the girls was the freestyle relay heats.  With a reaction time of 0.77 of a second, Tara flew out of the blocks to match Millfield at the start.  Abi performed a lightening change-over and Lucy gave her all in the third leg to keep her team in touch.

However, Bournemouth and St Christopher’s High in lanes 2 and 3 were spurred on by swimming so close together that their finish reeled us in right on Gabi’s touch. 

The girls came in fifth in their heat and had an agonising wait while the second heat took place and the announcement of the final eight teams came through.  Despite a team personal best time, the Priory girls came ninth overall - missing out by one hundredth of a second on the final round.

Guildford went on to win the event, narrowly ahead of Plymouth and Kelly College.

Knowing they had nothing to lose in the medley relay as they went in as the 13th fastest team, the girls found their good spirits again for the race.  Tara stormed out in the backstroke, swapping over to Abi for a commanding breaststroke leg.  Gabi was determined in her fly and produced an amazing leg, sweeping really low over the water at the finish so the final changeover was super slick.  Lucy brought the team home, fighting all the way to the wall in what was a gripping relay to watch.

The girls were thrilled to find they had improved on their position to finish 12th overall.  Mr Pearce and I are so proud of their achievement and particularly how they regrouped and fought hard after disappointment.

The whole event commands an extremely high standard and produces some stunning swims from all the schools competing.  For instance we had the pleasure of watching Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte swimming for Plymouth College in the senior girls relay squad.  She is the world record holder for 50m and 100m breaststroke, an Olympic gold medallist  and world champion in 100m breaststroke.

Our team this year have twice made it through and represented The Priory Academy LSST in this elite company, an achievement which reflects highly on the school and also offers inspiration to younger students coming through.

Thanks also go to both Vulcans and Pentaqua swimming clubs for their support in preparing the team.  Tara, Abi, Gabi and Lucy show an extremely high standard of self-discipline towards training which they maintain on a daily basis alongside their school work.

Mrs French