A PHENOMENAL 69 Stratford Sharks swimmers attended the Gloucester Sprint Swim meeting which featured competitors ranging in age from nine to a very competitive 50-year-old.
The early morning, late summer/early autumn fog disguised the arrival of a motivated, well drilled and highly competitive team from Stratford, who had come to set personal best times and win medals.
Just like an invading army, the Sharks made off with the spoils of war as they recorded 156 personal best times, won 48 individual medals and a further seven in the relays.
As with all swim meetings, there was a mixture of disappointment, jubilation, laughter and tears, although most of the tears came from the proud parents watching from the gallery.
The 25m short course Gloucester pool is considered a fast pool. Perhaps it is the standard depth throughout that creates an even movement to the water or perhaps it is the structure of the local Gloucestershire water.
However, it did not matter to the Sharks. It was a case of mind over matter, putting your body on the line and pushing through the pain barrier, visualising the victory then making it happen.
“Quite frankly it wouldn’t have made a difference if we’d been swimming in treacle. We were all here to perform to our best,” said Stratford Sharks swimmer Tom Beamer.
A special mention has to go to the nine-year-old girls who totally dominated their age group.
Leah Bowen won three golds and two silvers and earned an age group British ranking of 21st in the 50m freestyle, whilst Molly Bullock won one gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
Elizabeth Hunt claimed one gold and two silvers and an age group British ranking of 19th in the 50m freestyle and Scarlett Mackenzie also won a bronze for this excellent group of up and coming swimmers.
It is also worthy of note that Isabelle Callaghan and Elinor Bird achieved the qualifying times for the 100m individual medley for the Short Course Midland Championships to be held in November with truly excellent swims.
The boys’ team refused to let the girls have it all their own way and right across the board they put in sterling performances.
It was another staggeringly good day for Tom Beamer (12-year-old boys) as he swam away with four golds and one silver. Indeed, nobody knows where his mother keeps all the medals!
Harvey Flint, competing in the ten-year-old boys’ category, is really starting to fulfil his potential. He won two golds, one silver and two bronze.
Joel Watson also turned on the style and went home with an enormous grin and an impressive bag of medals.