October 2016: Relay swimming team bid for place in national final


SWIMMERS from Haslingden High School face an anxious wait to see if they have secured a place in the national schools relay swimming final.

The Year 7 and 8 four by 50m medley and freestyle relay team finished in seventh place out of 25 schools in both heats in the North West Schools Relay competition at Everton.

The youngest swimmer representing Haslingden High School was 11-year-old Mia Smith, from Helmshore, who only started at the school in September.

Mia along with 12-year-old Year 8 pupils Emily Nuttall, Caitlin Woodend and Amy Barlow now have to wait for all the other regional heats to be held to determine if they have a place in the national final in London in November.

All four regularly swim together because they are members of Pioneer 79 Amateur Swimming Club based at Accrington Academy.

Caitlin said: “They were using a gun to set the swimmers off and it was a bit scary. I was shocked when we were first in our heat.”

Amy, who swam butterfly, said: “When I dived in to swim we were in second place but when I handed over we were first.”

Mia swam the breaststroke leg and said she was swimming against a girl much taller than her but she managed to beat her by the time she handed over.

The final leg was freestyle swum by Emily and when she brought the Haslingden High School team home, one of the other schools still had two lengths of the pool to swim.

Also competing in the Year 9 and 10 competitions were Ashlea Jolly and Nadia Riley from Year 9 and Nuala Kearney and Sofia Riley from Year 10. They finished 21st out of 25 teams in the medley.

Coach Gill Smith said: “The junior girls’ Year 7 and 8 medley relay time would have won silver medals last year and qualified them for London so the competition this year was hot.

“We need to wait and see if they get through. The top 30 times in the country qualify, but even so, they beat off stiff competition from some very finely tuned teams from private schools with pools.

“The intermediate girls’ Year 9 and 10 were a true credit. Nuala no longer swims for a club and was terribly nervous, but she got stuck in despite her wobbles.

“Nuala, Nadia and Sofia were all making their ESSA debut and Ashlea Jolly swam a magnificent butterfly in the medley and fantastic first leg in the 200 freestyle relay.”