The Notts ASA Stage 2 series is either first or last series of galas depending on your view of things. It’s first in terms of the new season but last in terms of the calendar year. It differs from the Stage 1 events with its age range being 10/u – Open (rather than 8/u-12/u) and the Stage 3 series by having 50M individual events rather than 100M ones.

Either way, NLSC’s defence of its Stage 2 title started in earnest on Saturday night at Water Meadows, Mansfield.

Well we say defence; but it was more like an invasion with both A and B squads being drawn against each other. Perhaps the last time this amount of green was sent rampaging northwards through Sherwood Forest it didn’t involve tech suits, bullet caps, flip turns and streamlining.

Stage 2’s are good benchmark setter for the start of the season and the upcoming Arena League and it would be foolish to think we’d have it all of our own way. Sherwood, CaBSC, Mansfield and Worksop all have a long and strong tradition in this event and had the same goals as us; swim as fast as you can, get as many points as you can and move on to the next. Our work was cut out for us.

Two squads is a great way for NLSC to show our strength in depth. Our talent pool goes deep, really deep and even without some of our Senior Squad members who were channelling the spirit of the Famous Five by going camping, both squads were incredibly strong.

National champions and qualifiers mixed with regional champions, county champions, current and ex-Nova squad members and those that were aspiring to be all of that and those that had seen it all before and not only owned the t-shirt but probably designed it and marketed it too. All unified under the banner of the famous, happy green octopus and led by the first time by our new Senior coaching team of Maria Millers and Wayne Cummings.

The strength in depth is shown when there’s a quality of swimmer like Amy Aboutorab and Ben Sharp being only called upon for relay swims. Or you can call upon the quality of Masters swimmers Jonny Higham and Georgia Hohmann to race in the Open section. Or having Nova B1 squad members compete exactly the same as the rest of the B Squad and look for scalps across the pool. And for those making either their full, or outside of the Stage 1 events, debuts for the Green Octopus (Darren Millers, Sophie Evans, Edith Hewing, Jack Mandeville and James Beale) the exalted company of their teammates didn’t stop there.

Over the course of the evening 19 Personal Bests were set And the record books will tell you that the A Squad were victorious with 247 points ahead of CaBSC, Sherwood and Mansfield respectively with the B squad coming fifth with 121 points. A fantastic performance all round but it doesn’t tell you about:

  • Jack Mandeville’s absolute pitch perfect butterfly. For someone so young and so small to have such a good foundation in technique was inspiring to see. A tough call between his relay leg and individual race for swim of the evening.
  • The Iron-Man shifts put in by Lauren Shipley and Tom Wells for the B Squad and their encouragement of all around them.
  • The awe-inspiring cadre of 12-14 female swimmers on our books (Jess, Rosie, Amy, Hannah, Heaven, Evie J, Evie F, Sam C, Sam M, Emma D, Edie, Sophia, Katherine meant many many others couldn’t get spaces – Emma B, Alex, Holly, Erin, Abby S, Amelia & Ahona to name but a few). 
  • Andrew Hall swimming like Andrew Hall
  • An amazing ‘back flop’ start in the warm-up from somebody who shall remain nameless… *coughJonnycough* but then returning to nail it when it mattered (form temporary, class permanent etc.)
  • Ditto for seeing Georgia swim for the Octopus again. Hope all the G.O.’s poolside watched on in awe.
  • Rosie Dickerson taking time to encourage Edith just before her debut competitive race.
  • Darren Millers debut. Wow and take a bow young man!
  • Kallum Quirke’s series of 50M Free relay legs continuing to set up big points for the B squad.
  • Anja Tinsley’s smile at being back in the swimming fold after injury.
  • The loud support from the crowd
  • And our Venezuelan sensation, Giselle Du Pont, having a standout gala; quiet, unassuming, understated but lightening in the pool.

So regardless of wherever we came and whatever points were scored against some really high quality swimming from CaBSC, Sherwood, Mansfield and Worksop it’s worth remembering that not only did McDonalds in Mansfield have a very good evening from circa 9.30-10.00, but the Green Octopus takeover of Water Meadows was a complete and joyous success.

Onto Arena October 12. #WeReady

(Actually has anybody heard from the campers since the weekend? If not, is this the best place to raise concerns? Asking for a friend…)

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Swimming, stage 2