Atlantis swimming club went into the final gala of the Arena swimming league with aspirations of reaching the Premier Division.
Having won their previous gala rounds in the highly competitive Division One. Atlantis were faced with a tough task of swimming against the best five clubs over the season. It was simple, a win in the final round and promotion to the Premier Division, the pinnacle of swimming in the South of England.
It was looking good for Atlantis being rewarded with a home draw at Pavillions in the Park. Swimmers and supporter from across the South of England began to arrive early on Saturday evening ready to prepare for the start of the fifty event gala. As usual Atlantis hosted a capacity crowd and the now familiar Atlantis chant announced the home teams arrival poolside to the cheers of the supporters.
The team got off to an unfamiliar slow start, but faced with fifty events of competition and many top class swimmers it was not time to panic yet. First win of the night went to the under 13 girls medley team of Ethel Whyman, Millie Weeden, Issy Hayes and Emma Harrison backed up with a win for the open girls Freya Fulcher, Zoe Cawsey, Lily Davis and Beth Britton. After event ten points were announced. Atlantis was in fourth position with a lot to do. Poolside coaches were on hand to offer any last minute advice with Head Coach Andy Lobley motivating swimmers on the blocks.
Comprehensive wins for Amber Ranson 50 back, Becs Barber 100 breast and Freya Fulcher 100 back helped push Atlantis into a narrow lead just three points ahead of the teams in second and third place. The competition was fierce every swimmer from their respective clubs fighting for every possible point. Ethel Whyman, Daryan De Klerk and Beth Britton pitched in with a first place each in the 100m backstroke .At the halfway point Atlantis maintain their lead with a score of 106 points.
Dependable senior breaststroker Lily Davis dominated the 100m event to bring home maximum points and training partners Amber Ranson and Millie Weeden also gaining first places with impressive swims in freestyle events. Senior athletes Beth Britton and Aiden Sparling also left the completion in their wake with wins in the open 100m freestyle. Event 42 and Atlantis nudge a little further ahead now with a total of 171 points, 9 points clear of second place.
The gala was heading toward its climax with eight consecutive relay events. First up were the 10 and 11 year olds with both girls and boys events pitching in with valuable points. The under 13 girls team of Jess Glassford, Emma Harrison, Olivia Round Pitman and Issy Hayes increased the home teams points with another first place. The last two events saw the senior open girls freestyle team, Lauren Pedel, Jess Glassford, Lily Davis. Zoe Cawsey, Freya Fulcher and Beth Britton bring home the gold, whilst senior men’s team Aiden Sparling, Matt Boyes, Ed Hundleby, Dan Jones, Andrew Kershaw and George Charter narrowly missed out on first place.
So that was it, competition finished, hours and hours of training from the dedicated Atlantis athletes, but did they do enough to win….? Yes they did with a total of 205 points 15 points ahead of the second place team.
Head coach Lobley said: "The start of the season has seen a lot of changes at our club. All of these designed to improve the overall standard of what we can offer to swimmers. To win the league was unexpected but well deserved. We have a great back up team, the best coaching team and a pool full of enthusiastic swimmers who have ambition and drive. We have a long way to go but this is a great end to the calendar year.”
Atlantis are undefeated over the course of the Arena League with a 100 percent win record and look forward to competing in the Premier League next year.