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Swim England Winter Nationals 2017 Day 3

This day was going to be about Drama from the off, with coach Bazza (not so) elegantly performing the splits on the icy concrete at 7am in front of the entrance to Ponds Forge. Much to the amusement of the Swim England staff setting up for the day.  

Then, for the first time this week all three athletes were able to actually warm up together.  Due to the spacing and timing of events so far in the week, each athlete had warmed up by them self for their particualr events.  

It was a fortunate move for mid-week and imminently the typical ‘supportive’ competitive squad banter and some light-hearted jokes raised the energy.  In fact, it was hard to decide what was funnier, the punchlines or how long it took Jasmine to actually get a joke.

For example:

Q. Which athletes keep the warmest before their events?

A. Long Jumpers!

5 minutes later. ..... Jasmine:   Oh Yeah-I get it!     (Priceless, eh)

Morning Heats

The first event of the day was the 200m Fly, Jacob was seeded in the lead lane in the first of the last three cyclical heats. (Where each heat is spearheaded with the fastest swimmer in the middle lane).

With a split at 50m and 100m under the splits achieved when he gained his 200m personal best, Jacob narrowly led over Manchester’s Kevin Wallbank at the half way point.   The pair a few seconds ahead of the rest of the field worked off each other down the back end (second half) of the race and both touched around the 2.00 mark to reach the final respectively as 3rd and 4th seeds.  Although this was Jacob’s fastest ever heat swim, his sights were firmly targeted on the Commonwealth Games consideration time of 1.58.2.  The last length had hurt, keep reading to see if he would be able to find two seconds between the heat and final……

Next up was Ollie in the 50m Back, still feeling under the weather, Ollie was determined to show his mettle and push this event.  For the first time this week he had finished a warm up without shivering- a great sign.  Impressively carrying out his pre race routine,  following his final priming exercises with the med ball, Ollie headed off to race. 

With a strong start and 10 underwater fly kicks, Ollie was ahead of his best 15m split time, breaking the 7 seconds mark for the first time achieving 6.8secs.  A powerful build into a fast stroke rate saw him pass the 25m mark under 13 seconds for the first time in 12.9.  Then with steely determination he impressively maintained strong speed through the final 25m and smashed out over a half second PB finishing in 28.42.  The time placed him 5th in the Junior age group and just like the 100m earlier in the week placed him 32nd overall nationally.  But further more it was another swim over coming challenging circumstances. 


The final heat swim of the morning would see Jasmine do battle in the 50m Fly.  Last year at the same meet Jasmine qualified for the B final, finishing 1st in the 15/U Junior Category and 20th overall.    This year in her first senior year her aim was to make an A final.   With a good start Jasmine was up with the pack at the 15m mark and held her breath to 30m before the first breath, but then coming into the last 15m the race plan slightly broke down with Jasmine requiring more breathes than normal.  The time of 27.85 was a little off her PB, but when the results were posted it was enough to see Jasmine qualify 8th for the A Final. Objective achieved.

Each athlete reviewed their morning races with thier coach and left the pool focused and motivated to improve the most important areas for the evening finals.

The Finals

In the first Final of the evening, Jacob was pitched in a high-class field led by the fastest qualifier double Olympic Silver Medalist James Guy who was looking to add the 200m fly to his roster at the Commonwealth Games. 

With flowing underwater kicks and a long stroke down the first 50m Jacob touched fractionally in first place, going out under 26 seconds (25.77) for the first time.  By the end of the second length Guy had established the lead turning in 54secs, with Jacob just half a body length behind in second place, touching in 55secs.  Following earlier discussion, knowing where to improve from the heat Jacob started to power up half way down the third 50m and attacked the third wall turning on a 1.26, still 1 second behind the race leader.  Then, with an improved technical turn, a confident & brave underwater section off the last wall adding one more kick than normal, Jacob slightly closed the gap considerably with 40m to go. The rest of the length was about hunting down Guy and by the 200m finish mark there was only 0.30seconds between Guy who finished 1st and Jacob who touched 2nd in a time of 1.57.16.  Guy had impressively carried out his work well, gaining the fastest 200m Fly time by an English man in qualifying meets, booking his place in the 200m at the Gold Coast next April.

The time Jacob set (or the manner in which he raced) was enough to leave coach Bazza speechless for a good few minutes, but more importantly it was also over a second inside the Commonwealth Games consideration time.  It was a new British 17years old Record and the 7th fastest time ever by a British swimmer.  The fearless maturity in which Jacob set the time we hope will put him in good contention for the team which is announced early next week.  

Although he was excited by the result, for Jacob it was about carrying on with his job professionally, remaining calm; swimming down and working with Corinne on recovery strategies around stretching, massage, refueling and hydrating in preparation for the 100m Fly on Saturday.

Jacobs Post Race Interview can be viewed here


3 events later it was Jasmine’s time to enjoy her first Senior National A Final.  Following technical work around neck/chest stability in the afternoon warm up, coach & athlete also changed their well-rehearsed race plan regarding breathing strategy to simply suit how Jasmine felt on the day.  Would it be a risk or would it pay off?.....

Jasmine started well and held a decent seven fly kicks underwater and set her neck shoulders and chest stability in an improved sprint position, the result; a faster stroke rate and greater speed.  Jasmines first breath came slightly earlier, then after six more strokes of well maintained stability & speed Jasmine took her final breath, before the charge for the wall.  With athletes touching close, it seemed like an hour waiting for the final positions to show on the scoreboard.  Then showing from the outside lane 8, Jasmine had touched in 3rd position 3/4 of a second quicker than the heat displaying another outstanding step up from heat to final.  The time of 27.19 is a new Swim England South West Record, Dorset Senior Record and Club Record.  

From reaching her first A final to actually winning a bronze medal was looking like a fitting reward, until in dawned on the coaching team that the awesome Rebecca Smith of Canada had touched first, meaning that Jasmine was promoted to the Silver medal as the second fastest English swimmer, with Smith gaining a commemorative Gold.  Leaving both Corrine and Barry speechless for the second time in the space of an hour!

'Fast Friday' showed a great group effort demonstrating the power of a good athlete/coach/sport science support relationship and was mildly celebrated with a team meal followed by early nights for all. 

Saturday see’s Jacob compete in the 100m Fly and Jasmine in the 100m Free. The challenge is to keep the level of performance going.