Page last updated 24th June 2018

British Para International meet - Ponds Forge - 30th May to 3rd June 2018

We had 7 Orange Squad swimmers who qualified for this international event and 4 attended the training on Wednesday at Ponds Forge in preparation for the competition and the first events. This is a large event on the world Para swimming series, and just to achieve a qualifying time is a big deal. There were over 34 countries competing at this event, with just about every hotel in Sheffield city centre was fully booked out due to the huge amount of competitors.

Swimmers who achieved qualifying times were Scott Hadley, Robin Surgeoner, Emily- Jane Surgeoner, Megan Richter, Jamie Markall, Anna Binns, and Joshua Fairchild. Poolside staff - Karen, Stephen, Carl

On the first morning, Scott, Robin, Anna and Joshua all competed. All swimmers got a PB time, with Scott taking off 2 seconds of f his 100m freestyle time, 2 seconds off the breaststroke, Josh taking just under 2 seconds off 100m free and Anna just under 1 second again in the freestyle. Robin made the final of the 100m breaststroke. Within hours the rankings list has been updated with Scott rising to 8th place for breaststroke.

Robin swam well in the final, taking over second off his heat time, and finishing 8th overall.

Emily-Jane and Jamie attended a training session on the Thursday, and got used to 50m pool, and Megan joined us on the Friday.

Friday morning brought all 7 swimmers together in one session. Carl also joined the coaching team on poolside. The swim of the morning had to Jamie in his 200IM. Jamie has attended a lot of training sessions recently to get this right. He was struggling with the fly and breaststroke, both with turns and stroke technique, but he achieved a PB time and swam really well - showing training does pay off. Robin achieved PB time.

Scott achieved PB times, the first since 2016 in both IM and 50m free, Anna swam a great fly leg in the 200IM and Joshua also gained a PB time. Emily- Jane swam her first 50m free in a 50m pool, gaining experience along with her first PB time at long course.

No one made the final on the Friday but Anna came back to the pool in the afternoon for a training session to work on her pacing for the 400m in a 50m pool.

On Saturday morning, the new butterfly rules really came into force with a lot of DQ's across the board. Anna and Megan achieved a place in the final, Scott got PB and Joshua showed how to get through the 100m fly event in a relaxed style.

Emily-Jane, Scott and Robin came to the pool for a training session and pace setting in preparation for the 400m.

Anna got DQ in the final of 100mfly, mainly because she took the first 50m too fast and ran out of steam in the second 50m resulting in a stop at the 25m mark. However, she is going to use her time achieved as her new target time to achieve in a competition. She knocked her time down by over 11 seconds so quite an achievement despite the dq. Megan qualified for Europeans with a brilliant backstroke swim.

Saturday evening many of us met up for a evening get together, to talk over the days events and to help prepare for the 400m the following day. We were joined by Tully Kearney and we had a good old singsong, with made up songs by Robin. (Some of which are not really repeatable!)

Early to bed for swimmers, whilst coaches went over the races of the day and looked at the recordings of the heats to see where improvements can be made.

Sunday brought the 200m free and 400m. Robin, Emily-Jane, Joshua, Scott, Anna all competed. Great round of PB's, with everyone achieving a new PB time. Joshua achieved a place in the 200mfree and Scott achieved a place in the 400M free. Swim of the day was Scott, who, having not got his target time in the heats, felt disappointment and didn't want to swim the final. After a good old-fashioned talking to by his coach, he agreed to give it a go. He was sent to have some time out and returned with a strong positive attitude. He then went on to break his 3 year PB time by over 5 seconds, showing just what a new pair of swim trunks and a lasagne dinner can do.

Highs and lows across the 5 days.

Gingerbread men on pool side - all the swimmers liked these, so it became a 'Do we bite the head first or feet first?' conversation most days.

Wrong gender changing room - I won't mention the swimmer's name, as everyone there knows who it was, but we had a swimmer decide to get change in the wrong gender changing rooms - that was very interesting when the mistake was realised! Very funny, as the swimmer decided to leg it out of there. Still makes me laugh thinking about it

Jamie 200IM swim - such a lot of hard work had gone into this and he achieved a fantastic PB time, with no DQ, and now he is on the ranking list. Well-done Jamie, very proud of you. (And I know your mum is also very proud of you)

Late for warm up - 3 swimmers got a telling off - when the coach says be there at certain time, that's the time you need to turn up, not half an hour later!!

Get together in the bar - it's always good to have a bit of social time, catch up on the days events, and ensure that people go to bed in a positive mind, despite any disappointments of the day.

Too hot on poolside - I must have drunk 8 litres of water in one day. Far too hot.

No lost accreditation - every year someone loses their accreditation and it costs a lot of money to replace - no accreditation no swim. This year was the first time we have had not had to replace someone's so well done swimmers on this achievement alone.

Megan's DQ – she wasn't the only one - the new butterfly and breaststroke rules came into force big time. I am just very grateful for the heads up I got at Leicester and Darwen, as it did give me a couple of weeks to change techniques for a couple of swimmers who managed to avoid the famous DQ code on the score board.

400m swims - what brilliant pace work from everyone, great turns. Scott breaking that PB time that has stood for 3 years.

200m free - Joshua achieving PB time in the final.

Start sheets - thank you Pam and Steve for bringing the printer - we had to print off our own start sheets and programme for this event - very difficult when my printer is at home. Very grateful to Pam for providing us with a start sheet at every session.

PB swims - what can I say - every swimmer achieved at least one PB - Scott got 8PBs out of 9 swims, Anna achieved large PB times and so did Emily-Jane.

Tully joined the group - Tully used to be a member of OS but left when she moved to Manchester. She re-joined the group and spent some time socialising with us and it was nice to have her with us again.

Getting out of the pool - the steps were so difficult, no hand rails, over 2m deep and there was no hoist. We had bruises, bumps and undignified exits as swimmers were dragged, pulled and belly dragged to get out of the pool. Some techniques were invented there and then, as it was almost impossible for Robin and Tully to get out.

Anna leaving her husband behind - they have only been married 3 weeks and she is already leaving him. Anna totally forgot that Dan was waiting at the pool for her and left Pond Forge leaving Dan and Emily with a tail, sitting there waiting for her. It was only when Anna remembered Dan had the room key and she couldn't get into her room that she remembered. This triggered a made up song from Robin that has been put on the Orion Disability and Para swimming Face book page - it's worth a visit as I am still laughing about it.

Robin's song - The famous Anna song plus others - some of which, we cannot put onto Face book (just not suitable for younger viewing but very funny for adult viewing)

Strawberry Shoelaces - Do all swimmers like theses? I seemed to go through an awful lot of packets.

Robins Free turns - change of technique worked giving Robin a new PB time in the 400m.

Robin and car keys - Robin decided to go home (as in back to Birmingham) with his son's key cars, so he had to come back to the pool with them. Oops.

Steve and others poolside staff, tapping for Anna - I wont say a lot about this other than sack the poolside staff. It all worked out all right in the end - more luck than judgement though. (Another topic for a made up song by Robin)

New sweatshirts, t-shirts, trunks, hats, but no new dress for me - did try and persuade the swimmers that coaches always need a new dress and shoes and handbags but for some reason, they didn't arrive. I did get cups of tea and hot chocolate though, so thank you to Pam, Anna, Steve, Tracey for that, otherwise not only would have a badly dressed coach but also a very dehydrated one.

Late nights at the pool for me - I was leaving my hotel at 7am and not getting back into my room until after 8pm - very long days. Sunday night I got home after 10pm having been at the pool since 7.30am - long day but worth it.

Emily with a tail being dragged out of the pond - Emily with a tail decided she wanted to go swimming too - so she jumped into the duck pond, got stuck and had to be pulled out - one very wet, smelly dirty dog was the result.

I really enjoyed this meet this year, previous years this has been held in Glasgow, so was really grateful we wfere back at Sheffield as it meant less travel, less stress and familiar town centre (We have all been here before so we knew the best places to eat, shop and where to go just for a short walk away from the pool) All the swimmers were very supportive of each other and of other swimmers who were competing. It was great to hear the different languages being spoken around the pool, trying to explain that they are swimming the wrong way round in the warm up lane. It was very hard work and very tiring, and although some people might feel 7 swimmers should not be difficult to 'look after' all of these swimmers have a major impairment and disability, and require individual support just to even get onto poolside, get to a block, and then to swim. A fantastic meet, with fantastic results and fantastic squad with fantastic poolside support, and of course a fantastic coach! (even if I do nag at you sometimes)

Karen

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