We are biased. Unreservedly so. Unapologetically so. And we will be until our last breath whilst singing loud and saying proud too.

Junior Galas are the four best days of the whole swimming calendar. Period.

The last event of 2019 took place at the home of all Junior Galas, Nottingham High School, on Sunday 15th September and normal rules apply. Hordes of Green Octopus descend with their kit, hopes and aspirations to the fore and combined with bags of sweets, energy and conversation too.

Everything has that warm sense of belonging and knowledge that some quality racing is going to take place, parents will burst with pride and the swimmers will realise they can do things they never realised they could. And ably supported by a couple of recent Junior Gala Alumni (County Champions, regional and nationally qualified too) helping out around the pool there’s an immediate guide to where all of this can take you.

As always at the September event you can see how all of the swimmers had grown over the summer break. For some it’s a way to benchmark their times at the start of a new season; for others it’s a way to gauge their development since the last round back in June and for a very welcome few it’s their first time competing in a gala but definitely not their last.

The amount of new faces was amazing to see. The strength of Leander is helping people out at the start of their journey and give them a lifetime love of the sport and the latest cadre is one to be proud of.

Nerves over and friendships caught up on giving the lengthy break of at least 36 hours since they last saw each other at training it was time to get ready to race. Coaches trying to snatch conversations with the multitude of swimmers to encourage and support were mixed with anxious eyes from galleries.

If a noisy pool is a happy pool then Sunday was ecstatic.

PB’s set? Incredibly high. DQ’s? Hardly any. Disappointment? No. Not at all but if there was then the friendship groups at the heart of their experience with Leander was on hand to get them laughing and back on their feet within in no time whatsoever. Leander can help them with their swimming but they’re leading the way on becoming just brilliant people.

So the times are in. The points have been scored and we can see how much has changed in nine short months. The whole event can celebrated in style on 18th October where once again the Green Octopus will take over the Nottingham Bowling Alley for the presentation evening.

One thing that must be celebrated is the organisational work of Tina Dickerson who’s organised the Junior Galas for the past few years. Tina will be the first to say it’s down to a collective effort by many but she’s been the driving force pushing us all along.

Sunday’s event marked the last time Tina will take the lead for us here and there aren’t the words available to express our thanks. Whoever takes on this rewarding and brilliant role has a simple task in front of them to pick up the reins. On behalf of the whole club, past and present; thank you Tina.

Roll on January. More memories are waiting to be made.

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Swimming, Junior Gala