That was the weekend that was: A celebration of the new.
You’ve got to start somewhere. You never know unless you try. Give it a go. What’s the worst that can happen?
All simple and basic words with the benefit of hindsight and experience but when said trying to convince a very young person that standing on a block to dive in and swim against other people in front of a noisy group of adults and in a pool that you might not be used to? Ok then; good luck kids and give it a go – what’s the worst that can happen?
NLSC is more than just our squads. We have hundreds of swimmers collectively trying to be the best that they can be as part of the Green Octopus and so last weekend was dedicated to them.
Saturday saw the second round of the 2019 Sports Centre League at Hucknall. We use the Sports Centre league to give our development swimmers opportunities to shine alongside squad members competing in events they may not consider their strongest against quality teams from Sutton, Radford, Sherwood, Kimberley and Loughborough.
This doesn’t mean we don’t want to be competitive. Far from it. We want our swimmers to shine and the level of competition and drive from every single swimmer was of the Green Octopus’ usual high standards. From poolside, the smiles, spirit and atmosphere was its usual great place to be.
Special mention goes to Spencer Cooke for two of the gutsiest races seen after picking up a shoulder injury early in the night (he only mentioned it afterwards). Zack Hidle, Zoe Bailey and Oscar Ferrer continued their development in Breaststroke, Backstroke and Freestyle alike with Oscar bring home a really impressive victory in the 9/U mixed medley relay by some distance.
Anujin Munkbhat made a great debut showcasing some great potential and Ben Ashforth underlined his progress with swims of real quality. And it’s always a pleasure to see the experienced older guard of Lewis Rounce, Matt Fallon, Scott Shelton, Lily Storey, Maddy Brown and Alice Walton compete.
But it was the story of siblings that resonated.
Charlotte Seddon impressed with some great raw speed matched only by the boundless energy and smile she carried through the night. Not to be outdone, big sister Abby then stepped up to give a great PB in the 50M Fly coming less than 24 hours after declaring how much she hated the stroke.
The Sharp brothers chipped in with Ben swimming a masterclass of fly which older brother Oliver’s Breaststroke more than backed up. And finally the Francis brothers, Brad and Will. Both swam brilliantly giving everything for the club on Saturday; two really good people with a great future ahead of them.
5th place achieved. A smiling Octopus grows bigger.
Sunday was Junior Gala day and remains everything great about our club encapsulated into three, manic, noisy hours.
No matter how many times you see it you can’t help but smile at the collection of young eyes looking concerned at the start of the day, making their way through the crowds of people to get changed to then being relaxed and joking with their friends at poolside. The older hands were there once but are now spoken of in hushed tones as the ones to inspire the youngest.
The concern in the eyes of the kids then transfers over the parents in the gallery. Are they ok? Have they got their kit on the right way around? Will they remember what they’re racing? Where’s their bag? What’s happens if they cry? Are they enjoying themselves? Why aren’t they waving back?
Then the warm up starts and the kids start doing what they do best; swim. Get out, get dry, share some sweets and go back to talking and giggling about anything other than swimming.
Then the racing starts. This is real. Queue up down the side of the pool and wait to race starts to build the nerves in the youngest ones whilst the experienced ones yawn and stretch.
Yes there will be false starts, belly flops and disqualifications (each and every one a pained swish of the pen from the judges and referees who know they have to be fair but always wishing nothing but the best). But more so there is every single swimmer giving their absolute best to go quicker, harder and smoother than ever before.
All of the work they’ve put in training shines through as they touch the wall. The smiles erupt in the gallery after they’ve cheered themselves hoarse. They’ve done it and a wave to their friends and parents tells them that they’re ok before the age old battle of “What’s your name?” versus “What’s my time?” between the swimmers and timekeepers. Then it’s back to the sweets and the drinks and the chatter.
Before you know it, it’s done. Stories have to be told, bone-crunching hugs from parents have to be endured and waves to friends before seeing them at training next week have to be given. Memories made.
Sundays at the High School for the Junior Gala is a nice place to be. It’s a truly brilliant place to start.