Bicester Bluefins - Round Two 2014

Bicester Blue Fins returned to Worcester for the second round gala in this year’s National Arena League Premier Division. Having won the first gala last month, the Bicester Village sponsored squad of 26 swimmers from age 10 to adult was pitted against the current league champions from Boldmere, as well as stiff opposition from the home Worcester team, Stourbridge, Long Eaton and Cannock.

There was an early win in the relays for the 13 year Boys 4x50m Medley team of Oliver Inness, William Whitley, Freddie Ashley-Sparks and Ben Inness, beating the strong Boldmere squad into second place by over 3 seconds. They were also second in the Freestyle relay by less than half a second.

There was also a solid second place for Callum Laird, Kieran Bird, Josh Rowland and Tom Thornley in the 15 year Boys 4x50m Freestyle relay in a club age group record time, and they were unlucky to be touched out into second place in the Medley Relay by only three hundreds of a second but had the consolation of also securing another new club age group record.  In a further indication of the effort the swimmers put into the relays, Thornley’s opening 50m Backstroke leg was also recorded as a new overall club record.

Another excellent second place relay performance came from the 11 year Girls 4x50m Medley team of Alexandra Pluckrose, Maddy Powell, Lottie Wynne-Jones and Eveena Shah.

In the individual events Lottie Wynne-Jones was again in top form by matching her three wins in the first gala. She won the 11 year Girls 50m Backstroke, and then stormed the 11 year 50m Butterfly by over four seconds in a club age group record time. She also swam up an age group to secure the 13 year 100m Butterfly and sliced two and half seconds off the club age group record in the process.

Tom Thornley remarkably broke the overall club 100m Backstroke record twice on his way to his two gala wins.  His first new record came by winning the 15 year old event by an impressive 4 seconds, the only swimmer to finish in under a minute. He then swam up in the Open category and won that too, recording a further record break of 58.64.  Thornley was also second in the Boys 100m Freestyle.

Fellow 15 year old Kieran Bird won the Boys 100m Butterfly in an overall club record time of 59.21, again the only swimmer to break a minute and beating the next placed swimmer from Boldmere by over three and half seconds.  He also won the 15 year 100m Breaststroke in a club age group record time.

Ellie Falkner was also in fine form. She won the 15 year Girls 100m Butterfly and set a new overall club record of 1:06.92.  She then went on to win the 15 year 100m Freestyle.

Bicester’s eleventh victory came from William Whitley who put in a gutsy performance to win the 13 year Boys 100m Breaststroke.

Also helping secure valuable points was Tabitha Watkins. As well as second place in the 13 year Girls 100m Backstroke, her third place in the 100m Breaststroke was also a club age group record time.

There were also good individual second place swims from Oliver Inness in the 13 year Boys 100m Backstroke and Butterfly, Maddy Powell in the 11 year Girls 50m Breaststroke and Freestyle, and Christopher Littleton in the 11 year Boys 50m Butterfly. Sinead Vine-Nealon also swam well in the 15 year Girls 100m Backstroke,

The other squad members who all played their part in an immense team effort were Olivia Ashley-Sparks, Cameron Digman, Alice Gravett, Charlotte Inness, Sean Lock, Liam O’Brien, Jack Rowland, Chloe Wanless, Melissa White and Tom Whitley.
After 50 tough and hard fought events, the Bicester squad was edged out of second place by a single point in the last event of the evening. The final scores were 1st Boldmere (248 points), 2nd Worcester (178 points), 3rd Bicester Blue Fins (177 points), 4th Stourbridge (152 points), 5th Chase (148 points) and 6th Long Eaton ‘A’ (142 points). The result meant Blue Fins missed out on the final gala of the top six clubs, but still represented a continued best ever performance of 7th place in the premier league having only secured promotion for this season.

Head Coach Struan McNeil commented: “This was the toughest test yet for the swimmers – not just a physical test, but also a mental one too. After winning the opening gala in our first year in the premier league they achieved the right to compete against the reigning league champions, and to grab 11 wins and come away with a solid third place is all we could have asked of them. All 26 swimmers should feel proud in securing valuable points for their team mates, but I was also impressed with their level of focus and commitment towards this extreme challenge.  

“The season is getting better and better, and I’m confident the squad’s best is yet to come!”

The third and final gala of this year’s league takes place on 13th December.