June 2017: Regional swimmers show their support for injured friend

TWO swimmers competing in the North West Regional Swimming Championships dedicated their efforts to their friend who was injured in the Manchester Arena attack.

Emblazoned across the backs of Mia Smith and Beth Hartwell from Haslingden High School was, ‘Get Well Soon Amy x x’.

Their friend Amy Barlow, 12, received injuries when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the end of the Ariana Grande concert. Amy, who required surgery for her injuries, is now back home and back at school on half-days.

She is a member of the swimming club Pioneer 79 based in Accrington where Mia, 11, from Helmshore, and Beth, 13, from Norden, both train for nine hours every week. The club has so far raised more than £1,000 for their appeal #swimforamy.

Mia’s mum Gill said: “Mia visited Amy twice on the children’s ward at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and went along after the regionals, at her mum’s request, to show Amy the medal she won.”

Mia said: “Amy is my best friend. Knowing that we were swimming for Amy made us want to swim even faster. Amy has been told that she can go back to swimming, but she is waiting for her wounds to heal.

“Competing in the regionals was a bit scary because it was really busy.”

At the Manchester Aquatic Centre, Mia competed in the 11-12 age group after qualifying for seven events. She went on to make three regional finals, all in breaststroke.

In 100m she was third in the North West, in 50m she was fourth, missing bronze by 0.2 of a second, and she was sixth in 200m.

Mia is now the 25th best breaststroke swimmer in the country for her age.

Beth said: “I was competing in the under 13s; I got personal bests and came in the top 10 in most of the heats.”

Reece Griffiths, 13, from Edenfield, was competing for the first time in the regionals and managed to get into two reserve finals.

Three swimmers, Mia, Caitlin Woodend, 12, and Emily Nuttall, 13, also competed in the Preston Gala

Caitlin, from Helmshore, swam in five events and achieved four personal best times and silver medals in 100m and 50m backstroke.

Emily got personal best times in all her swims Mia swam in four events and got a silver in 200m butterfly.