2021 Arena League Round 2 Competition Report

Iain Hazell

BOBCATS were competing for the second time this year at Kendal in the final round of the 2021 North West Arena League. It’s been great to get back into team racing and seeing BOBCATS swimmers of all ages getting to know and support each other.

For the final round we were competing against the top 5 teams in the division, these were:

Altrincham, Copeland, Fleetwood, Kendal and Ramsbottom.

It’s fair to say that all the other clubs fielded their strongest swimmers in each / multiple events, including drafting in some swimmers who train and compete with other teams. I have taken the decision this year to give as many swimmers as possible the opportunity to race and it was noticeable that we had far more swimmers at the competition.

In total we’ve had 40 swimmers take part over the two rounds, hopefully this will allow us to be better prepared for the 2022 season when there will once again be promotion and relegation between the divisions.

This round we made a steady start over the first 10 events with swimmers in the 13/U and 15/U relays performing very well to record fast times. It wasn’t until the 11th event when we recorded our first win of the night, this was achieved by Caitlin Wilson in the 15/U 100m Backstroke – dominating from start to finish in a time three seconds under her previous best.

Caitlin’s win appeared to inspire the rest of the team who produced a series of strong performances over the next 10 events, including several second-place finishes and another win for Maya Smith in the 13/U 100m Backstroke. Maya achieved this by outbattling the opposition on the final 50m, to also finish in a great time over a second under her previous best.

At the halfway point, Bobcats were in fourth position with 66 points just three points behind Kendal in third but around 20 points behind Altrincham and Ramsbottom who had started to open a lead.

During the second half of the competition, it became harder to pick up points as we rotated our team and the other teams continued to swim their strongest swimmers in multiple events. We managed to achieve a number of fourth and fifth place finishes but only one more win by Eleanor Edwards in the 15/U 100m Freestyle. I thought it was a cleaver swim from Eleanor who sat on the shoulder of the leader for the first 75 metres before powering clear on the final 25.

The final scores were as follows:

Ramsbottom 191, Altrincham 185, Kendal 137, Copeland 128, BOBCATS 120, Fleetwood 114.

Overall, we finished a solid 5 th out of 11 clubs in the division, it would have been great to finish higher, but I think we made the correct decision in giving more swimmers the opportunity to race.

The format of the Arena League highlights where teams are strong and where they have gaps, Bobcats have struggled to bring through younger swimmers (particularly boys) over the past 5-10 years and this still shows when we are racing in team competitions. I think we are starting to address this since returning from lockdown and will be much stronger for next years competition, especially as most of our youngest swimmers for Arena are only 10 years old and will be able to compete in the same age group next year.

2021 Arena League Round 2 Competition Report I’m confident that we will be able to step up significantly next year by swimming our strongest team and I hope that competition for places encourages swimmers to work hard and improve their race skills over the next 12 months.

Thank you to Nick Cragg, Lola Cragg and Kira Pickles for supporting the team on poolside, and for Julie Finn / Tammy Edwards who were our judges for each round. Well done to everyone who raced over the two rounds and look forward to doing it all again in 2022.

Ian