The annual Nifty 50s gala, hosted by the Thetford Dolphins, always provides a fast and frenetic start to the new swimming season, coming straight after the long summer.  Many of the swimmers who competed would have used the gala as an incentive to put in some hard training sessions during the past few weeks, and the tough sessions that the GYSC swimmers have completed recently certainly seemed to pay off, as they resulted in a bumper crop of new pb times and some excellent placings in what was a popular and busy gala.


34 swimmers made the trip down the A11 to Thetford, and it was particularly pleasing to see so many of the junior squad members competing.  For some of them it was their first experience of a big open gala, and they coped admirably.  With great support on poolside from the coaching team, they swam their hearts out, and gained a huge amount of experience.  Lilia Burgoyne and Ava Patterson (age 9) also gained some excellent placings enabling them to take away trophies for their swims – 5thplace in 50m back and 6thplace in 50m butterfly for Lilia and 6thplace in 50m back and 50m freestyle for Ava with Alecks Whyte (10) also getting 6thplace in 50m breaststroke.


The Nifty 50s awarded trophies for the top 6 swimmers in each age category, which gave swimmers a better chance of gaining a trophy, although with some age categories having over 25 swimmers in them a great performance was still required to achieve a top 6 finish.


The top performer from GYSC of the gala was Amelia Dibble (10) who was extremely strong across all of the events she competed in. Swimming consistently all day she took gold in 50m backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and 100m IM and a silver in 50m freestyle.  She was pushed hard all the way, however, by team mate Grace Turner who took impressive silvers in 50m backstroke and butterfly, bronze in 50m freestyle and breaststroke and a 4thin 100m IM.  Also successful in that age group was Skye Nichols who showed her speed in backstroke with a 4thplace and then took a determined 5thin the 100m IM.


Zoe Land’s hard work in training shone through as she took an excellent bronze in the girls age 11 50m breaststroke (with 32 swimmers competing in her age group), along with 5thin 50m butterfly and 6thin 50m backstroke and 100m IM.  Brad Secker (12) has always been a strong breaststroker and a determined swim meant he achieved a 6thplace. He also took 6thplace in the 100m IM. Swimming in the girls age 12, Jasmine Coleman continued to shine in butterfly, taking silver in great new pb time.  She also took 5thplace in the 50m back, 50m free and 100m IM, with strong swims in all of them.  Rhys Jarvis (13) has found some excellent speed lately, and put this to good use, finishing with a bronze in the final event of the day – the 50m freestyle.


The more senior swimmers also had to pull some new pbs out of the bag to achieve placings in their age groups.  Most swimmers will agree that the older you get, and the more you race, the harder pbs are to achieve.  Some stiff competition from other strong clubs such as West Norfolk, Thetford and Dereham along with some friendly in-club rivalries, spurred them on however, and there were plenty of smiles on poolside. Anna Pearce (13) always swims with determination and was impressively consistent with 4th place in 100m IM and 5thplace in 50m butterfly, freestyle and breaststroke in a particularly competitive and fast age group. Jacob Zandbergen competed in 3 events and took an impressive 2 silvers (50 backstroke and 50m freestyle) and 4th(50m butterfly). Melissa Duffield showed a new turn of speed at this gala, swimming pbs in all but one of her races and fought hard for a great 6thin backstroke.


It has been great to see Taylor Hudson return to competing for the club, and she swam strongly all day, in the large and competitive age 15 and over age group. She took a great 6thin 50m backstroke. Swimming in the same age group was Anna Duffield who rediscovered some great form, taking a gritty silver in the 50m butterfly, bronze in the 50m freestyle and 100m IM and 5thin 50m backstroke. Competing in the boys age 15 and over were Tommy Chandler and Ryan Webb.  Tommy has always shown impressive speed in the breaststroke, and once again he over-powered his opponents, taking a determined gold in 50m breaststroke.  Ryan Webb had an excellent day of swimming. His recent hard work in training paid off as he smashed pbs all day long. He was delighted to go sub 30 seconds for the first time at a short course meet in the 50m backstroke where he took bronze. He also took bronze in the 100m IM along with 4thin 50m freestyle, 5thin 50m butterfly and 6thin 50m breaststroke.


Not all swimmers who compete can win medals or trophies, sometimes the most impressive swims come from swimmers who just have one of those days where it all falls into place and they take huge chunks off their previous pbs, moving way up the rankings, catching other swimmers who were faster than them and suddenly gaining a new self belief.  There certainly were many swims that fitted this description, but Cameron Loveland (14) probably deserves a special mention as being the swimmer who had one of the most notable improvements.  Its not often that a swimmer takes over 6 seconds off a 50m freestyle time, but he did just that, along with similar huge gains in all of the other events.  Well done and congratulations to all the swimmers who achieved new pbs.  It is also worth remembering that pretty much every swimmer will be DQ’d at some point, and not to be disheartened if it happens, it’s all part of developing as a swimmer and the most successful ones will learn from it and move on.


Well done to all the swimmers who competed and many thanks to the volunteers, officials and coaching staff.