This was a first for many of us – a lie-in on the day of an Open Meet. With girls’ warm-up starting 10.45am at Grantham’s Meres Leisure Centre, it meant we could all actually have breakfast with milk on!
Today would be an all-girl Portland affair with event organisers awarding medals to the top three swimmers of each age group in every event. The building felt spacious, the pool looked good and spectator seating was ample. We had a long day ahead of us – three sessions to get through. With only 7 swimmers competing for us, would there be much to report? Grant was poolside, though feeling a bit sleepy. Swimmers were asked to report to the officials.
The extra sleep and nutritious morning meal certainly provided sisters, Jaime and Olivia Misiuda and Alice and Lizzie Mulligan, with the energy boost required to swim against Lincolnshire lasses in the 200 Individual Medley. In the team’s very first race of the day, Olivia achieved a 10 second PB, Jaime and Alice took 5 seconds off theirs.
We were hurtling through races at a surprisingly quick rate in this 8 lane pool, as Alice found almost to her cost, just making the line-up for the 100m breaststroke. After Emma Horne’s heat, however, there was a gap, so time for a little rest. It was starting to feel rather hot.
The 50m freestyle saw Jaime get another PB, with Rebecca Horne, Emma and Lizzie only just outside theirs. Emma received a silver medal in her age group.
Forwards to the backstroke, 50m sprint. Once again, we had 3 swimmers in the same heat: Holly McGarva, Olivia and Rebecca. Not only did Holly and Olivia swim fastest times in this event, but they also attained County qualifying times! Rebecca and, in a later heat, Emma just missed PBs again. Holly came 2nd in her age group and Olivia 3rd, winning silver and bronze medals.
Food time, great. Grant was now wide awake and, over lunch, gave some unexpected coaching tips on speed-eating, specifically Happy Meals: a friend of his has done it in 42 seconds. Apparently, there are different techniques that can be adopted. Hmmm … our swimmers carried on eating their pasta.
With the second session warm-up underway, the heat in the pool area was becoming unbearable. It was reminiscent of the Eden Project’s Rainforest Biome. In our delirium, we were quite expecting to hear cicadas soon. 3pm, the races had begun and things were also hotting up in the pool. This session encompassed a fine display of swimming by the Portland team consisting of the following highlights:
Olivia – 8 second PB & County time; Holly – 5 second PB, County time & bronze position; Lizzie – over 3 second PB.
Jaime – 6 second PB and County time; Alice 7 second PB and County time; Lizzie PB.
Olivia – PB; Rebecca – silver medal position.
Alice – PB; Holly – PB and silver medal.
The parents were drowsy now. Popping outside to cool down made it feel even worse upon return. We decided to stick it out, ‘stick’ being the operative word. We were on the final stretch.
The 200m breaststroke heats (we now understand why they’re not called rounds) brought us back to full alertness with 4 second PBs and County times for both Holly and Alice. Holly was 2nd in her age group and Emma 3rd.
Alice proceeded to knock 6 seconds off her best time in the 100m freestyle. Lizzie finished her day with a 50m fly and Holly, Alice and Emma closed the Portland proceedings with the 50m breast; Holly and Emma both winning silver medals.
We never did get used to the ‘Swimmers, you are now under the control of the referee’ announcement before every heat – it conjured up too many Dr Who alien invasion images. However, this was a smoothly run Open Meet. The scoreboard was huge, clear and accurate. It was a very long, hot day (maybe parents should have brought towels too), very tiring; but once again, with almost half the races resulting in PBs, almost half of them County times, it was another successful venture for Portland swimmers – they did themselves proud. Well done girls!
Many thanks to Grant for his support and coaching tips, the swimming-related ones anyway!