News from the National Arena Swimming League.
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Sevenoaks Swimming Club’s ‘A’ team recently returned from the National Arena ‘B’ final in Cardiff, securing a fantastic 6th place overall, and 4th place in the combined relays. The qualifying process took place over the latter part of 2018 and involved over 350 Clubs and 10,000 Swimmers (in 6 regional leagues) battling their way through the 3 qualifying rounds (individual events and team relays) to reach the prestigious finals.
Only the top 20 clubs made it through, the first 10 to the ‘A’ finals and the next ten to the ‘B’ final. On the day. Sevenoaks fielded one of the youngest squads, with only one male and 2 female swimmers competing in the Open events, with the remaining Open category spots being fielded by their younger swimmers. Their opposition consisted of the eventual winners Mount Kelly as well as Winchester, Southport, Camden Swiss Cottage, Thanet, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Bromley and Ipswich.
Each member of the Sevenoaks team gave every ounce of effort, many swimming in back to back events. There were plenty of top 3 finishes in both the individual and relay events. Most notable of these were the individual 1st place finishes from Kara Dimond (14/U 100m breaststroke) Eva Okaro (100m freestyle and 100m butterfly) and Aiden McMillan (16/U butterfly) together with the Girls 14U 4 x 50m freestyle team - Eva Okaro, Samriddhi Das, Imogen Stoddart and Isabella Okaro who also took the win. Eva was justly rewarded for her efforts, winning the award for the top swimmer in the 14/under age group (even more remarkable because she isn’t yet 13!) presented by Commonwealth Gold medallist Alys Thomas.
Head Coach Keiron Piper said ‘I am incredibly proud of each and every swimmer – reaching the finals with such a young team was a huge achievement, and to come 6th against huge opposition was justly deserved’ The team consisted of: Abigail Saunders, Alyze Gentles, Amelia Tovey, Fern Gray, Thomas Johnston, Millie Armstrong,Demi Alli, Jacob Crombie, Toby Burke, Devon Tannock, Joseph Box, Elspeth Watson, Eva Okaro, Izabella Okaro, Kara Dimond, Samriddhi Das, Jaedon Lynch, Noah Enticknap, Thomas Creasey, Lilie Chambers, Maddy Glen, Amelia Childs, Edith Norton, Zoë Naylor-Perrott, Aiden McMillan, Euan Terry, Jacob Hudson, Louis Hayes, Oliver Coote, Robert Allen, Amy Farthing, Emma Evans-Wilson, Benjamin Strebel, Eddie Hammond and Nathan Rodrigues
On Saturday 8th December the Club sent an A and a B Team to compete in the final round of the National Arena Swimming League, with the A Team travelling to Wycombe and the B to Maidstone.
The A Team had qualified for the South Premier Division final, competing against Thanet, Bromley, Wycombe District, Oxford City and Guildford City – the repeat of the final last year, whilst the B Team were competing in the “Middle” final of Division 1 East after having already secured their place in the division from stellar performances in the previous rounds.
The B team were depleted on the night due to a variety of illnesses and injuries, but their typically raucous team spirit propelled them into a strong 4th place finish behind winners Maidstone, Black Lion and Thanet – beating Orpington Ojays and Erith & District.
The A Team fielded the youngest squad by quite a considerable margin in the final and battled to a hard fought 6th place in the league, 1 point behind Thanet Swim Club. This result placed Sevenoaks A as the 6th strongest team in the South of England and meant that, for the third year running, the A Team qualified for the National Arena League Cup Final in Cardiff.
This is astonishing achievement should not be underestimated, with the National Arena League themselves naming the South Premier Division being the strongest division in the entire country, as all 6 teams have now qualified for the National Final 2 years in a row. The Club will compete in Cardiff March 2nd and will attend ranked in 15th place.