Disability Squad Round up

By Peter Rush

9th February 2011

2010 was a very successful year for the Disability Squad, with swimmers competing at local, regional and national levels.

During the year our dedicated coaches have worked hard with all of our swimmers both in the pool, and at a weekly land based training session, which has enabled them all to improve their strength and technique. Most of our members swim twice a week at Parkside pool.

In order to ensure that disabled swimmers can compete on a fair basis they go through a classification process, which puts them in to one of 14 classes depending on their particular disability. At the start of the year three of our swimmers were classified, and one further swimmer obtained her classification in September. Once a swimmer has been classified they are able to compete at open competitions, and, as long as their times are good enough, at National Disability Swimming events.

The first event that our swimmers took part in was the Cambridgeshire County Championships, where Alice Rush (aged 12) won three gold medals, Jonathan Douglas (aged 16) one gold medal and Louis Rolfe (aged 12) a silver medal. These championships were open to all swimmers, both disabled and non-disabled, and as a result of her swims in this event Alice qualified to swim at the Eastern Regional Championships, which again was an open event. This was her first swim at this level, and her first long course competition (swum in a 50m pool) and she swam well to finish fourth in the Multi-Disability 50m freestyle event. In a Multi-Disability event all disabled swimmers compete against each other, with the winner being the competitor who has swum closest to the world record time for their classification.

In September two of our swimmers competed at the London Regional Disability Championships, and it was at this event that Rebecca Lawes successfully achieved her classification. Alice Rush had some very good swims at this event and qualified to swim in four events at the National Disability Swimming Championships.

The National Championships took place in November at the home of British Swimming, Ponds Forge in Sheffield. It is open to all classified swimmers in the UK and therefore Alice was swimming against members of the Great Britain Paralympic team. Alice put in some outstanding swims at this event, achieving personal best times in all of her events, and winning a Bronze medal the the 100m Individual Medley. This was a fantastic achievement for her considering that she was competing against swimmers who were much older than her, and with considerably more experience.

The final event of 2010 was the East Region Disability championships to which we took a team of six swimmers, some of whom were getting their first taste of competitive swimming. Medals were only awarded to swimmers who were classified, and Alice Rush and Jonathan Douglas both had excellent afternoons. Alice came away with 2 gold and 2 silver medals, and Jonathan finished with 2 golds and 1 silver. Jonathan also broke the East Region 50m breaststroke record for the S9 class. Rebecca Lawes was the only S5 competing at the event, so medals were not awarded in her class. Medals weren't awarded to unclassified swimmers, with them all being put into boys and girls guest classes, but Jack Barry swam well, getting two firsts a second and a third in the events he competed in. Gemma Cassettari got a first, two seconds and a fourth and Annabel Harvey two seconds and a third.

Looking ahead, 2011 is already looking to be a very exciting year for us, with all four of our classified swimmers having achieved qualifying times for the National Junior Disability Championships which will take place in Sheffield at the end of February. We are also hoping that more of our swimmers will achieve their classifications during 2011.

We would like to say a huge thank you to John Lewis for their generous sponsorship which has undoubtedly contributed to the success that we achieved in 2010.

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