British Swimming Glasgow Meet 2021

Barry Alldrick

 British Swimming Glasgow Meet 2021

This was the final preparation meet for the British Olympic team and the final opportunity for swimmers to gain qualification times.  It further provided an opportunity where Junior swimmers could log times to qualify for the European Junior Team that heads out to Rome in July.

Meeting the qualifying times for the meet were Catherine E and Robbie H who would make the journey from Poole with coach Barry.  Jacob P would make the journey from Bath with the National Centre, and Emily C from her base at Loughborough University.

The meet had extremely strict Covid Bubbles, with swimmers spread across three of the city’s hotels, with strict testing and measures in place, ensuring bubbles were maintained.

Day 1

200m Backstroke

First up on Thursday night was Robbie H in the 200m Back stroke.  Without coach or swimmer having any precise idea how the race would go, Robbie jumped into the pool for his first major meet in 15 months.  (with the last one being in Edinburgh in March 2020).  

Robbie had gained times quick enough to enter the Senior Competition.  As the youngest competitor in the senior section, Robbie went out with a well-controlled first 100m, hitting under his personal best for the first and second 50m.  The strength gained outside of the pool showing a stronger hold of the water and lower stroke count.  The third 50m the speed of his arms started to slow as the lack of consistent aerobic training due to lockdowns became evident.  With grit and determination Robbie powered through the last 50m to earn a 2.06.13.  The time a mere 10th of a second outside of his Personal Best.   The result earned him 15th place.

100m Fly

In the same evening Jacob was up in the 100m Fly where he comfortably led his heat from start to finish to qualify second for the final.  For this competition, the heats were in the evening, and the finals in the morning to mirror the programme in Tokyo at the Olympics.

Day 2

100m Fly

Jacob stepped up by two tenth of a second to finish second in the 100m Fly, practising skills that would be needed in two months’ time.

50m Free and 100m Fly

Catherine who qualified for the Junior competition was itching to race (after a 17 month lay off a major competition). The programme meant Catherine would be swimming the 50m Freestyle followed by the 100m Butterfly. With recent technical developments and strength gains from coach Collette’s amazing lockdown routines.  Catherine set out with incredible speed on the 50m Freestyle.  The race plan was to breath just twice, but one more was needed, the pace continued with Catherine earning a finish time of 27.03, taking three tenth off her personal best.  The result moved her up to 5th in the junior rankings.

The conscientious athlete followed her strategy between races to find herself on the blocks for the 100m Fly a mere 20 minutes later.  With improved underwater speed and stroke length along the first 50m, Catherine touched in first place, and kicked strong down the second 50m to return in a PB of 1.3 seconds in 1.03.68 to finish 5th.

Of course, for this committed athlete gaining two personal bests, after not competing for 17 months and working round lockdowns and constant school assessments, was not quite good enough.   

Coach Barry commented “The hunger of working with an athlete who sets such high standards is very rewarding”.

Catherine Showing The Greatest DIve Distance from Lane 1

50m Back Heat

In the evening Robbie was in the 50m Back heats.  His race plan went to plan with him touching in 26.13. The result was a personal best of sixth tenths of a second and a time quick enough to qualify him 6th for the Senior A Final.  In fact, the time was his first Dorset Senior Record, beating his teammate Jacob’s mark set in 2016 by half a second.

Day 3

800m Free- Final Heat

The day started with old Poole Swimming Club member, now training at Loughborough University Emily Clarke who initiated in a battle with Ella D from Wycombe.  The pair swapped the lead with Emily just having the edge on the final 100m to take the win in 8.57.93.

50m Back Final

In the morning final Robbie stood up and jumped into the water and followed his plan, with improvements around his break-out (the transition between the underwater fly kick section to the first back stroke arm).  This resulted in another personal best and lowering the mark he set yesterday afternoon to 26.05, touching 6th

50m Fly Heat

Jacob was up next in the 50m Fly, with the focus around holding the water, the process was achieved and he touched second to qualify third for the final.

Jacob and Barry in the warm up

400m Free Heat

Emily after her morning efforts was then up in the 400m Free heats, finishing and qualifying 4th for the final for the following morning.

100m Back Heat

Robbie was going for the best time he could on the 100m Back heat.  With good control of speed, on the approach to the turn Robbie drifted towards the lane rope, lowering speed, and turned on a 27.44, still a personal best split at halfway. He raced hard on the way back and earned a personal best time by nearly a full second.  Earning a 56.77.  The time qualified him for the Senior B Final.   The time was only half a second short of the European Junior Consideration time set by British Swimming, and although a year younger than the top age, Robbie fancied taking a shot at it the next day.

Day 4

1500m Free and 400m Free Final

The first race of the day was the final of the 1500m.  Emily and Ella gain had another good race pushing each other along, with Emily taking the win.  A massive well done to Ella and coach Kevin on such an impressive time for a Junior. A mere 20 minutes later Emily was back in action in the 400m Free.  The seasoned distance swimmer set out strong and still finished 6th, a little behind her heat time, but a strong performance given the events completed over the competition.

50m Fly Final.

Jacob was up next to previous world champion Ben Proud, and he delivered a step up from heat to final finishing 2nd in a 23.87.

100m Back

Robbie prepared well and jumped in for the 50m Back final.  His determination to achieve a time sore him go out with a much faster stroke rate in the first 25m, the approach to the turn was also better and an improvement on the first 50m turned on 27.24, he gave everything on his return, but the efforts of the first 25m mixed with not being at full fitness kicked in, but still an impressive time as he matched his heat time finishing on 56.84.  

It was a welcome return to competition and has allowed the athletes to work on their races and set their goals for the next competition.  For that it will be the Olympics for Jacob, and the Festival of Swimming for Emily (Midlands), Robbie, and Catherine (South West).

For Robbie to return with two personal bests out of three events, including a first Dorset Senior record was impressive.  For Catherine likewise two big personal bests out of two events was impressive.

Robbie happy to be back racing 

Coach Barry commented:

"I am proud of these results, especially given the interruption to training over the last year. It felt so good to back on poolside and feel inspired by the athletes.  It feels like we have all been stuck at a broken railway crossings in their swimming journeys over the last year.  But to still see progress and now have a firm indicator of where we are and what we need to work on, the buzz and excitement of working towards these targets is back and we will be full steam ahead looking forward to the next major competition".  

A huge thank you must go to Scottish and British Swimming teams for running the meet for 300 swimmers in a safe manner with logistics that the Army would be proud of.  A big well done to Sonny C and coach Martin from Seagulls who also swam well.  Congratulations to Laura Stephens and former Poole Head Coach Robin Armayan, as Laura earned the consideration time for the Tokyo Olympics GB Team, twice in the 200m Fly.