24/06/2019

It’s been a few years since Craig David swooned the country with his account of a memorable week for him. Though consider a classic by many, he didn’t do any of this:

Saturday:
Numerous medals, PBs and a new British Record for NLSC Masters
Notts ASA Stage 1 Champions

Sunday:
Numerous medals and PBs at Retford’s Open Meet at Ponds Forge.

Monday – Friday:
Hard challenge week in training.

Saturday:
Lizzie Edge representing GB at the European Youth Triathlon Festival
Ben Naish and Mia Lovell representing English Schools at Water Polo

But to just add the exclamation point to Mr David that our week was better than his, we’d have to scratch a seven year itch in the final of the annual Derby & Notts league.

We’d last won the competition in 2012 (great Olympics, awful film). In the intervening years we’d always come close to winning again but always been thwarted by City of Derby SC.

Come the final once again at Bramcote on Saturday, we trailed Derby on countback with each team putting down impressive victories in the first two rounds.

It’d be arrogant and not the Green Octopus way to suggest it was going to be a two-horse race. We knew from the Notts ASA leagues that Bramcote, Sutton and CABSC are really strong at the moment in time and our friends at from Ripley Rascals over the border have real strength in depth too. If we were going to scratch that itch, we’d have a real fight on our hands and we’d have to earn it.

The intent was laid down at the outset with both 12/u medley relay teams winning the first two events. Then with the benchmark set, grind out point after point after point. Each stroke mattered, each start, turn and takeover was crucial; push yourself that little bit more and who knows what will happen. It doesn’t matter where you finish, just finish because each point counts…

The A Team delivered 21 PBs from the 32 individual events (66%). And we’re not talking small hundredths but massive multi-second PBs too. The Green Octopus was answering the call.

Over at Lammas, the B Team also had a point to prove. We’re not there to make up numbers, we’re there to show our strength in depth and lay down markers for others to follow.

And it would be great to do a double over City of Derby with their B Squad there too alongside Belper Marlin, Chesterfield, Dronfield Dolphins and Derby Phoenix.

As you’d expect from the Green Octopus, our guys at Lammas gave their all and fought and cheered for one another throughout the night led both in and out of the pool by our captains Emma Beale and Laurel Roberts-Burrell, both of whom have really come of age in recent weeks.

Similarly huge congratulation the new butterfly brother and sister combo of Owen and Eve Horsley! 12 PBs were achieved including some standout times from Tarun Balamurugan and Casey Burr.

But the total effort of the united team and the strength of character shown on the night pulled us to come through and finish second on the night behind Dronfield and cementing an overall position very close to the top ten in the overall standings. An outstanding, gutsy and well-deserved result for a group of swimmers that epitomised our great club.

Back over the border at Bramcote it was getting tense. As City of Derby and we began to pull away from the others we were up, we were down. County champions raced against regional champions, medallists against medallists as victories were spread across all six lanes.

A five-point gap to Derby was closed in race 24 with Boys Captain, Daniel Oyaide-Nicholls smashing a three-second PB in the 50M Breaststroke. In the very next race, Girls Captain, Heaven Harris-Burton pushed the Green Octopus back out in front with her very own PB in the same event.

And so it went on. Back and forth. Ahead, behind. Points being gained by others and taken away by return. Places being decided by the touch and the challenge grew bigger, the support grew louder and louder and the racing grew in tandem.

And then it comes to the cannon. It always does.

One more race. Doesn’t matter how you get there; just get there fast, legally and with everything you have. There’s a seven-year itch waiting to be scratched here and we’ve been so close before. Go.

City of Derby take the win. Bramcote pip Ripley who pip us into 4th in a blanket finish. Is it enough?

Like boxers who’ve slugged it out for twelve rounds all teams revert back to their corners. Each believing they could have done it. Now it was down to the judges and we waited.

As chants rang out, we waited.

6th Place. Sutton. 5th Ripley and CABSC 4th.

Bramcote 3rd.

In second place, with 208 points.

City of Derby A.

Nobody heard what happened next.

Nobody could hear what happened next because an explosion of green noise rang out across Bramcote but what we had been waiting for for over seven long years had come to pass. Nottingham Leander Swimming Club had won with 210 points and were the 2019 Derby & Notts Champions by a single point.

Cue the celebrations, the singing, the dancing, the hugs and the smiles. Congratulations received from their competitors and returned just the same. Parents and volunteers as proud as what can be and the warmth that only the Green Octopus can provide spread out across all of club, both past and present.

The time between victories makes it mean a lot. But to be fortunate enough to have a group of swimmers who can overcome a great City of Derby squad, with all of their history and ability, as well as all of the other great clubs and their talent pools too is very humbling. And that, Mr David, is one heck of a way to cap off a seven-day period to sing about.

2019 is shaping up to be one of legend. We’re the current holders of all three Notts ASA Stage competitions. Individually at county, regional and national levels our swimmers (both Club and Masters) are achieving things beyond our expectations and we’re now the Derby & Notts Champions and we’re off to the Regional Final in October in Matlock.

But this isn’t the end; it’s only the beginning.

We’ve achieved our successes by swimming happy and by swimming together. This is what we do and this is the result.

Roll on the autumn for the Arena League; who knows what we’ll achieve but as a united Leander, #WeReady!


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