A number of Atlantis Swimming club members represented their secondary schools in the 61st finals of the English Schools Swimming Association National Relay Championships at the iconic London Aquatic Centre.
A total of 416 secondary schools from eight regions across the country had participated in county and regional qualifying rounds, with the fastest 30 teams making it through to 4x50m freestyle relay and 4x50m medley relay finals in junior, intermediate and senior age group categories.
The Sussex round of the south east heats took place in October, at the Pavilions in the Park, where the Atlantis swimmers booked their schools a ticket to London.
The teams were eager to challenge reigning champions and leading sport’s schools Millfield and Mount Kelly, as well as many top independent and grammar schools.
By the end of the heats, the 30 schools were reduced to the top ten finalists in each age category for each event.
In the freestyle relay heats, Millais junior girls; Sophie Rodwell and Sofia Velasco and their Crawley teammates, finished 29th.
The Forest School junior boys; Oli Colombo, Bruno Haskell, Archie Ruggiero and Will Weeden pushed hard in the 4x50 medley heats. With a particularly outstanding 50m fly performance from Colombo of 30.5 secs, they finished in 27th place overall.
In the 4x50 freestyle heats, the boys swam nearly five seconds faster than their qualifying time for an impressive 15th overall.
Millais’ intermediate girls - Emma Harrison, Jessica Glassford, Anna Templar, and club captain Millie Weeden - qualified 16th for the freestyle and ninth for the medley.
In the 4x50 freestyle heats, an exceptional 27.92 from Glassford and personal bests from the others, placed them straight through to the final ten.
In a nail-biting final, they put up a thrilling performance to move up an amazing ten places to finish sixth overall.
There were some standout performances in the 4x50m medley heats from Harrison with a 50m fly time of 31.20 and Glassford, with a fast free time of 28.18. Despite this, the girls narrowly missed out on a final top ten to come a fantastic 11th in the country.
Issy Hayes, representing Reigate Grammar intermediate girls, and her team put in a steely performance to clinch a place in the final ten of the 4x50m free heats.
Battling it out against Millais they finished eighth and rounded their day in 24th place in the 4x50m medley.
In the senior girls, Gabby Eltham and her Hurstpierpoint team came 23rd in the freestyle and 28th in the medley.
Hamish Milne-Skillman and his Millfield senior boys’ team, put in a first-rate performance in the medley final to clinch silver, losing out to close rivals Mount Kelly.
Regional Atlantis coach Becky Harrison said: “This year’s performance at the national relays was the best in Millais’s recent history, to finish sixth in the country is some achievement.
“I am very proud of both the teams for qualifying and hopefully we’ll see the girls in the junior, inter and senior teams back next year fighting for a place in the final.
“The Forest juniors also swam well at their first nationals and Oli Colombo’s 50m freestyle of 28.04 secs was awesome. Well done everyone.”