South Lincs swimmers back in action
South Lincs swimmers have returned to the water after a hiatus of four months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the prolonged break from training, the athletes have come back to the pool with enthusiasm and determination and have started their journey on returning to full fitness.
The club resumed training on Wednesday, September 2, with three of the squads starting in the water before 6am and despite the early start over 30 members were present.
The pandemic brought an abrupt end to the 2020 season for the South Lincs swimmers. Following a superb showing at Lincolnshire County Championships, many of the athletes were excited to move onto East Midlands Regional Championships and work to gain qualification to English and British National Championships.
Despite the lockdown, the club’s swimmers have returned with renewed vigour.
Head coach Keith Haynes said: “I’m delighted to see the swimmers back and training and they have returned to their programme with real determination.
“We’ve been able to return to training in time for the start of the new season and are all looking forward to the return to competition, hopefully in 2021.”
The club has younger swimmers looking to qualify to Lincolnshire County Championships for the first time, while the senior swimmers are keen to be back on the medal podium posting new personal best times.
South Lincs was able to boast an impressive 20 athletes qualifying for East Midlands Regional Championships for 2020, but sadly the event was cancelled.
Both swimmers and the head coach are keen to see those swimmers re-qualify in 2021.“It was particularly disappointing for those first time qualifiers that Regional Championships were cancelled,” saidHaynes.
“We had talented youngsters such as Frank Lamb and Erin Siggee who had made their first qualifying standards to Regionals, along with some first time senior qualifiers such as Lucas Garlike who had found real form in the 200 metre butterfly.”
The next step up from Regional Championships is to National Championships. 2019 saw eight of the South Lincs swimmers qualify to National Championships and Haynes was keen to build on this success and see more swimmers make the qualifying standards in a greater number of events.
Emma Croker was a silver medallist at British Championships in 2019 and was looking to make it a step further by claiming gold in the 50 metre freestyle this year.
Croker also made finals in two other individual events and was looking to claim medals this time around.
Ellisha Cookson and Mollie Briggs were finalists at English National Championships in 2019 and had hoped to make the step up to the podium in 2020.
South Lincs had seen particular success with its girls relay teams. The quartet of Emma Croker, Ellisha Cookson, Aurinija Maliauskaite and Daisy Rummery claimed a silver medal at Regional Championships in the 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay and qualified to British Championships in 2019.
The team had been hoping to make improvements in 2020 and qualify again to the British Championships and additionally qualify in the 4 x 200 metre freestyle relay.
With a number of the girls moving up an age group for 2021,Haynes is eyeing the opportunity to send multiple teams to British Championships, in the 14-16 years age group and in the 17 years and over age group.
“We have a strong group of girls aged 15 to 17 and it is a real possibility some of our younger swimmers can join the veterans of last year’s British Championships to make some new relay teams just as effective for 2021.”
Among the swimmers showing potential are Anya Strickland, Beatrice Finch and Jessica O’Herlihy.
Not to be outdone, theboys have been showing terrific progress. Senior swimmers Luke Blanchard, Joseph Lund, Atticus Strickland and Ed Skells have made significant drops in their personal best times.They performed very strongly at Lincolnshire County Championships in 2020 and had racked up their most successful number of Regional qualifying standards.
The aim in 2021 is to try toprogress the boys to National qualification. “The club has been well represented at Nationals with the girls so I am keen to see the boys making that step to Nationals as well,” said Haynes.
But the clubs and swimmers goals don’t end at National Championships. The longer term aim of the head coach and the talented swimmers is to make the break through to junior international selections.
Emma Croker had made the impressive standard of qualifying to the Olympic Trials, scheduled to be held in April 2020.
“We are hoping that the with the Olympics being moved to 2021, the British Olympic Trials will go ahead in April 2021 and that Emma will get her opportunity to experience this major event for the first time,” said Haynes.
“At 15 we are not looking for Emma to qualify to any British team, but for her to gain valuable experience. If Emma can continue on her trajectory then she could be a real contender for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics.”