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hucknall lcThis was the second of this year's JC Dobb galas and was held at Hucknall Leisure Centre. With three swimmers taking part from our household, the first challenge was packing everyone into the car at the appointed time, with the correct kit and sufficient water and jelly based snacks to get them through a night of racing. With Forest playing away and no threat of ice or snow, the trip there was plain sailing, so we arrived on time and in good spirits. Once again, the early birds had taken all the worms (for worms read seats) but there were still some good vantage points on offer, for those standing at the back.

The programme was the same as for round one, with forty eight races split between five age bands 8/9, 10U, 12U, 14U and Open (or 15+, as some swimmers prefer to think of it). The team captain was Rebecca Phillips, who is obviously no stranger to multi tasking, as she took on the job of looking after the lane end too, only deserting her post to compete in her own events. A big thank you to her for taking on all that and also managing a PB in the Open 50m butterfly.

The evening got underway with the U10 freestyle relay and this week the boys team of Andrew Tsolakis, Ethan Pywell, Dan Hardy and Dylan Hughes demonstrated some great technique. The first PB of the night went to Rebecca Horne for the 14U 50m backstroke. As in round one, Hannah Williams took first place and achieved a PB in the 12U breaststroke. Great stuff, Hannah. Isabelle Day's lovely stroke gained her second place and a PB in the 10U 25m backstroke and Dan Hardy achieved a second PB in two weeks for the same event. Not to be upstaged by his younger brother, Ben Hardy dug deep and achieved a PB in the 14U breaststroke.

Rounding off the first third of the gala, Edward Roberts, Ethan Pywell, Andrew and Anthony Tsolakis raced to second place in the 12U freestyle relay and with half of their team swimming up, this was an excellent result. Amy Hardy achieved a breaststroke PB, swimming for the first time and after much persuasion in the Open age group. Well done to Amy, for 'feeling the fear and doing it anyway,' and thanks to Dom and Grant for spurring her on to have a go.

Following on from this, Matilda Larkin put up a good fight and gained a PB in the girls 10U 25m freestyle, taking an impressive 2.23 seconds off her previous best time and Ethan Pywell was back on poolside for the boys race, finishing in second place and with a PB under his belt. What a good night for our determined younger swimmers. Our 14U mixed medley relay team of Tarun Mistry, Ellen Roberts, Georgia Sillitoe and Ben Hardy fought their way to second place with some lovely butterfly from Ellen and a battling finish from Ben.

By far the most astounding PB of the evening went to Hannah Williams for the 12U 50m fly, taking a gob smacking 11.07 seconds off her previous time. A result, I think Hannah will remember for a long time. Luke Farnsworth swam up to take on the Open 50m freestyle and finished second, in what was a closely contested race and Georgia Sillitoe came away with a PB in the 14U 50m fly, making the stroke look like a walk in the park. Gen Poon swam up to compete in the 12U 50m backstroke and was rewarded for her effort, by taking almost two seconds off her previous best time.

Moving into the final third of the gala, there were some great swims from our older swimmers in the Open freestyle relay. The girls team of Amelia Tsolakis, Molly Campbell, Amy Hardy and Rebecca Phillips took third place and the boys; Ryan Pigott, Michael Tones, Luke Farnsworth and Andrew de Boer, matched that, the girls swimming quite close to the cut off time. We were treated to some impressive breaststroke from Andrew Tsolakis in the boys 10U race, bringing him home in third place and some powerful front crawl from Rebecca Horne, as she took second place in the 14U 50m freestyle and scooped her second PB of the evening. A good night's work for Rebecca and also for Jack Ellis, who achieved a PB in the boys race.

Andrew de Boer took first place in the Open 50m fly and the last two PBs of the evening were fought for by Erin Birney in the U10 25m fly and Ryan Pigott in the Open 50m backstroke. Well done to these three but especially to Ryan, who faced stiff competition, as he was swimming up. The cannon was raced with the usual urgency; with our youngest swimmers, Maddie Poon and Dylan Hughes, giving it their all to get us off to a good start. The race was completed around seven seconds faster than the previous week, so well done to all who took part.

Having been in fourth place at the halfway stage, I was a bit nonplussed when the final results were read, announcing Portland in sixth place but there were only a few points between the last three places and with so much success on the night for individual swimmers and PBs in a third of all races, the overall result seemed less relevant. I rounded up my small team and with a PB a piece and the possibility of chips on the way home, we departed in the same good spirits, with which we had arrived.

Note: The results were corrected the following day - We actually came 5th!

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