THE GROWTH and improvement of Rugby Swimming Club was there for all to see after they made the Grand Final of the Mercian Swimming League for the first time in many years.
The event covers most of the South Midlands region with nearly 25 teams entering but any swimmer with a regional qualifying time was unable to compete, so it was a real test of the club’s strength and depth,
Rugby were tested to the limit at Nuneaton’s Pingles Stadium on July 9, with several unavailabilities which saw many swimmers drafted in and they performed admirably against such strong opposition.
The event turned into two separate competitions, with Leamington, Stratford and Coventry fighting for top spot, while Rugby, Blythe and Worcester battled it our for fourth.
Rugby were competitive with some of the best in the region and while they finished sixth on the night after running out of steam in the final relays, it was a huge achievement for the club in what was the last event of the season.
One swimmer who deserves a mention is Toby Marlow, who as 6.45pm was sat in the balcony ready to watch his twin sister race, only to find himself racing in the water 15 minutes later.
Steven O’Neill was also rushed over from Rugby for a single length, which shows the excellent team a spirit within the Rugby camp.
Rugby knew they were in for a battle and as ever Ethan Flecther rallied the troops in his own inimitable style.
The fun but competitive ethos was summed up by the ladies open breaststroke race, where Mel McWhirter from Coventry just pipped Rugby’s Rachel Lloyd into second place after both ladies were well clear of the field.
What made their acheivement all the more remarkable was that the other four swimmers in the race amassed a total of 60 years between them, some 25 less than both Mel and Rachel combined as the two avoided each other in an aquatic game of cat and mouse earlier in the evening.
The younger swimmers found it tough against older and bigger opposition rivals, but Jake Smith, Kieran Jarvis, Steven O’Neil and Toby Marlow stuck to their task, as did Erin Lloyd, Clara Haywood, Ella Marlow and Libby O’Brien.
In the 12-year age category, Toby Rigg Mack Patchett-Smyth, Ben Aitcheson and James Armeson where always on the pace, without recording a win, as were the girls of Erin Moran, Anna Farrow, Maeraid Williams and Harriet Troup.
Moving up to the 14-year age group, Pavel Scerbakovs, Ben Jones, Max Taylor, and Jack Dolly, were perhaps the most successful male age group, but the girls of Aoife Williams and Kirsten Harrington were short staffed, but still kept the points rolling.
The most successful age group were the open ladies of Rachel, Abbie Dolly, Ellen Harrington and led by club captain Megan Williams, who won both her events.
Others who swam in earlier rounds were Devesh Chohan, Lucy and Ceri House, Jasmine Rigg, Tamzin Kyte Alfie Hebb.