26 swimmers from Great Yarmouth Swimming club competed in Dereham Otters’ Iceni gala, held over the last weekend in September.  The gala had a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, at a pool that has good views for spectators and plenty of room at the end of the lanes for team-mates to cheer on the swimmers in the water. Swimmers were competing for attractive medals (awarded for the top 3 times in each age group) that were based on an Iceni coin, unearthed in the local area.  There were large teams present from St Felix and Norwich Swans alongside the home team Dereham Otters, and others.  Although friendly in atmosphere, the races were very competitive, with some impressive times needed to top the age groups.


The stand out performer over the whole weekend was Amelia Dibble (10), who not only won 6 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 2 bronze medals, but was also named as the top girls swimmer in the whole gala.  This was calculated by totaling up the points earnt in all of the races in which she competed, and then ranked alongside the other girls who swam. She received a special award, presented by Jo Banham – Norfolk ASA President – and long serving swimming teacher at GYSC.  To achieve such an award, Amelia had to swim consistently well in every event, from 50m freestyle to 200m butterfly (the race in which she had perhaps the most support from her team mates and in which she managed a massive pb of just under 30 seconds). Well done Amelia.


Other medal winning performances were achieved throughout the age groups that GYSC competed in.  Skye Nichols (10) competes in the same age group as Amelia, so always has tough competition to try and overcome.  Despite not feeling very well, she had an excellent weekend taking fabulous bronze medals in 200m IM, 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke and 100m butterfly. Her most gutsy swim was probably in the 200m freestyle where she achieved a 4 second pb.  Emma Land also competed in the girls age 10 and swam strongly all weekend with one of her best swims being the 50m freestyle in which she did a massive 3 second pb. Ava Patterson (9) is still quite new to competing in large open galas such as this, and coped admirably.  She showed excellent team spirit on poolside and had an impressive 5 second pb in her 50m breaststroke where she only just missed out on a medal coming 4th.


Competing in the girls age 11 group were Zoe Land and Grace Turner, both girls swam strongly in this busy age group.  In fact Grace had only just turned 11 so had to really step up.  She did and her 6 second pb in the 200m freestyle was most impressive.  Zoe again showed her talent for breaststroke taking convincing bronze medals in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke with strong swims in both.


Jasmine Coleman (12) continues to shine when it comes to the butterfly events, she took a brilliant gold in the 100m fly, getting closer to another regional time, along with silver in the 200m butterfly and bronze in the 50m butterfly. She also finished the gala with a great swim in the 100m freestyle, despite battling illness in the week leading up to the gala.  Isla Marshall also competed in this age group and had a strong swim in the 50m butterfly taking a huge 5 seconds off her previous time.


There was a good in-club battle for positions and times in the girls age 13 and 14 groups, with Anna Pearce (13) being chased hard by Francesca Brown (13), Alyssa Greenall (13) and Melissa Duffield (14).  Anna Pearce came out on top, taking an excellent bronze in the 100m butterfly, and being just pipped into 4thin the 200m backstroke. Francesca and Melissa were both in the same 200m backstroke heat as Anna, and after the 8 lengths they all finished within less than a second of each other in what was a thrilling race to watch.  Abbey Secker (15) swam with determination, as she always does and swam a great new pb time in the 100m breaststroke.  Anna Duffield (16) competed in the age 16 and over age group.  Only swimming on the Saturday she pb’d all 3 of her races, taking a surprise 2 seconds off her 100m back in the final heat of the event, and earning herself an unexpected bronze.  She also took confident silvers in the 200m freestyle and the 50m butterfly.


Top performers for the boys were Harvey Larner (11), Jacob Zandbergen (14) and Ryan Webb (16), who won 9 golds between them.  Harvey was very consistent across his 4 events, showing real speed in the sprints with gold in the 50m fly, 50m back and 50m freestyle, with the addition of a great silver in the 100m backstroke.  His swim in the 50m freestyle secured him a regional time in that event.  Jacob continues to improve at every gala, and once again swam some excellent times to win his medals. His 50m freestyle time of 27.43 was a pb and brought him a gold. He also won gold in the 50m back and 100m back along with a bronze in the 100m freestyle.  Ryan is also in a phase where he just gets quicker and quicker every time he races.  As at the Nifty 50s, at this gala he swam new pbs in every event he competed in, taking his 50m backstroke time down to an impressive 29.37.  He also took gold in the 100m backstroke, and silvers in the 100m freestyle and 50m freestyle along with bronze in the 50m butterfly.  The club were pleased that Ryan’s improving form recently has resulted in him being picked to represent Norfolk at the forthcoming National Inter County gala in Sheffield.


Other swimmers who competed included: Ollie Grimmer (13) who is also showing rapid improvement across all the disciplines.  He took bronze medals in his favourite stroke of backstroke for the 100m back and 200m back, although perhaps his most impressive swim came in the 200m freestyle with a 41 second pb and a great county qualification time. Nathan Pitman (14) showed real improvement in his breaststroke technique, and this resulted in a silver in the 200m breaststroke, and a massive pb time.  There were also notable swims from Diogo Wiseman (13) who had an 11 second pb in the 200m IM. Rhys Jarvis (13) had a massive 24 second pb in the 100m breaststroke and Cameron Loveland (14) who continues to improve, taking more time off his sprint events, and gaining increasing confidence in the bigger open galas.  It was good to see Charlie Shearing (12) returning to competing after an enforced period of recovery. He swam with heart and is regaining his form.  Jack Tate (12) has returned to competition in the pool rather than the open water and also had a positive weekend of racing.  Brad Secker (12) had a great pb in the 100m freestyle and always impresses with his fantastic backstroke starts! The youngest boy to compete for GYSC was Alecks Whyte in what was only his 2ndever open gala.  It can be quite intimidating taking part in large galas like this, with older swimmers poolside, but Alecks took it in his stride swimming a pb time in every event and taking an impressive 5 seconds off his 100m backstroke time.


Coach Sue Lyons was poolside with the team for the whole gala and said she felt proud of each and every one of them, not only for how they swam, but also how vocally they all supported each other.  She said a special mention should go to the junior captains and vice captains, Melissa and Ollie, Anna P and Jacob along with senior swimmers Anna D and Ryan who really supported the younger and less experienced swimmers, and assisted with warm ups and praise and advice to other swimmers after their races. Huge thanks go to the team managers and officials without whom these galas could not happen.