The Warwick Thompson Memorial gala was held at Thetford over the weekend of February 23rd and 24th. Many people will remember Warwick as the enthusiastic and charismatic swimming gala commentator from Norwich Swan Swimming Club and The City of Norwich Swimming Club over numerous years, and this gala honours his memory. Great Yarmouth Swimming Club certainly a showed positivity and determination that would have impressed him, throughout the whole weekend of competition. Taking home an astounding 67 medals, and an impressive number of new pb times, the 18 swimmers who competed did the club proud, and had Head Coach Richard Every literally dancing with delight.
For the families, supporters and coaching team, one of the most pleasing aspects of the whole weekend was not only the success that the swimmers achieved, but the manner in which they did so. The swimmers were up and cheering for every race that a GYSC team-mate was competing in, and this added immensely to the friendly and supportive atmosphere of the whole gala. In fact, one representative from Norfolk ASA came over to complement the coaching team on how well presented we were, and the team spirit on poolside was great. Richard added to this with his own challenge of ‘how many swimmers can you fit in a single swimming hat?’ – seems like that answer was 5 (see the photo for evidence!).
The girls outnumbered the boys at this gala, with only 4 boys from GYSC taking part. However, all four boys won medals, and all four also swam new pb times. Swimming on the Saturday, Brad Secker (13) swam strongly all day and took a great bronze in the 200m free and an impressive gold in the 100m IM, where he pulled away from his competitors on a particularly strong breaststroke leg. Charlie Shearing (14) was returning to competition after missing a lot of training due to illness, despite this he came away with a pleasing 3 silver medals (200m free, 50m free and 50m fly) even managing a new pb time in the 50m fly. Cameron Loveland continues to improve at every gala, and took huge chunks of time off all of his pbs in all 4 races that he competed in on the Sunday. He came away with silver in the 50m free and gold in the 100m breaststroke, 50m breaststroke and 100m IM. As ever the busiest swimmer of the gala was Nathan Pitman (15) who competed in an incredible 13 events over the weekend. He also achieved a long list of new pb times – including an 11 second one in the 200m fly – and his medal haul for the weekend was 3 golds, 1 silver and 8 bronze medals.
The girls won medals in every age group too, with particular success for the club coming in the girls 200m breaststroke across the age groups and the 200m IM where GYSC took gold, silver and bronze in the girls age 14 category – a clean sweep.
The youngest girl competing for GYSC was Lilia Burgoyne (10) and after a solid start to the gala, she just got better and better taking bronze in the 50m breaststroke and 200m freestyle, silver in the 100m freestyle, and then finishing the gala with a gold in the final event of the day, the 100m IM. Emma Land (11) also had a superb weekend, and showed a real talent for breaststroke taking bronze in both the 100m and 200m (knocking a huge 15 seconds off her 200m breaststroke time in the process).
The age 12 category always provides great competitiveness within the club, with team mates Grace Turner and Skye Nichols often battling it out for the top spots between them. Once again, they dominated the races they were in, taking the gold and silver positions for Yarmouth in the 200m breaststroke, 100m fly and 100m IM. The other clubs didn’t stand a chance if those 2 were swimming! In the end, Grace took an amazing 4 golds and Skye came away with 4 brilliant silvers.
Girls’ captain Zoe Land was our sole representative in the age 13 girls. In a competitive age group she medalled in 3 out of her 6 races, and was just pushed into 4thplace in her other 3 races – a really consistently high performance across the weekend. She took bronze in the 100m freestyle and silver in the 200m backstroke and (in what was perhaps her best race of the weekend) silver in the 200m breaststroke where her time of 3.22.02 would have placed her in 3rdout of all of the age groups having taken nearly 8 seconds off her previous best time. In an exciting final heat she pushed older team mate Megan Smith right to the end (with Megan’s speed showing through in the end and winning her gold in the age 15s)
Success for GYSC continued in the age 14s with 4 of our girls competing in this age group. The greatest medal tally was taken by Amelia Nesbitt, who swam fantastically all weekend. She also smashed many of her pbs, taking an impressive 7 seconds off her 100m backstroke time in a gold medal swim. She also took gold in the 100m free and 200m free, silver in the 50m breast and 100m I and bronze in the 100m IM. Girls’ Vice Captain Alyssa Greenall battled hard with Amelia creating some great races to watch and a dilemma for the team, who often had to split themselves between the lanes to cheer both swimmers on! Alyssa took golds in the 200m IM, 200m breaststroke and 100m IM and silver in the 100m breaststroke and 200m freestyle. Also in that age group was Chloe Haworth, who despite only competing on the Saturday managed to leave with an impressive 4 medals. She swam a great pb to take a confident gold in the 100m backstroke and showed speed and determination to take silver in the 200m IM and 50m freestyle and a bronze in the 100m freestyle. Maisy Green performed strongly too with a big pb in her 50m free, and pbs in both her other races.
GYSC also had 4 representatives in the girls age 15 category. A friendly in-club rivalry served them well in the pool, with another set of smashed pb times, and a healthy haul of medals between them. In a tough age group with some strong swimmers from other clubs, not all great swims won medals. Francesca Brown swam well through the weekend, with a particular mention going to the 50m backstroke in which she was spurred on to a pb by head coach Richard promising that if her and Melissa increased their arm turnover rate as much as he wanted them to, he would wear a tutu to a training session! It seemed to work for both of them…so they have their reward to look forward to now. Ladies’ Vice Captain Lucy Gordon had a successful weekend, with an impressive new pb in the 50m freestyle earning her a silver medal, she also won silver in the 200m freestyle and bronze in the 200m backstroke. Melissa Duffield came away with the most medals in the age group, but was pushed hard all weekend by Megan Smith who was hot on her heels in many of the events. Megan’s new found speed was clear for all to see and she had a brilliant weekend of competing coming away with well deserved golds in the 100m and 200m breaststroke, silver in the 100m IM and bronze in the 100m freestyle. Melissa Duffield had her most successful gala to date, taking a medal in all 7 events and pb-ing in 6 of the 7. In her favourite race of the weekend, the 200m IM, she went out strong and pulled away from everyone else in the final heat in the breaststroke section, and took gold a full 6 seconds ahead of all the other swimmers in the event. She also took a convincing gold in the 200m freestyle and 50m backststroke. She won silver in the 100m freestyle and 100m backstroke and bronze in the 50m free and 50m breaststroke.
Abbey Secker was competing in the age 16 and overs, and impressively took medals in all 4 of her races on the Saturday. Silvers in the 100m breaststroke and 100m freestyle and bronze in the 50m freestyle and 50m breaststroke.
Head Coach Richard and Coach Sue were both delighted with the performance of the team and how well they behaved and supported each other. They also wished to thank Ladies Captain Anna Duffield who although she was not competing, came and team managed on the Saturday. Well done to all of the swimmers who competed, and thanks to all the volunteers without whom these galas could not take place.