15 year old Niamh Robinson was competing in the 2015 British Summer Swimming Championships held at Ponds Forge, Sheffield this week. The competition was held over 6 full days, heats in the morning and finals at night. The entry procedure has changed this year, with swimmers having to achieve times during an 8 week ‘qualifying window’ March-May. The fastest 24 swimmers in each age group at the end of the ‘qualifying window’ are then invited to compete at these Championships. The next 20 English/Welsh/Scottish swimmers are then invited to compete at their respective Summer Championships which take place the week before or after the British Summer Championships. Due to Niamh turning 16 before the end of the year, she was competing as a 16 year old under the new conditions.
Day 1 saw Niamh competing in the 50m Butterfly, after the heat, she was lying 8th fastest for the final, however, she went on to finish 6th in a new personal best time and new IOM Junior Long Course Record time of 28.34. Her next event was the 200m Individual Medley, after the heats where Niamh had recorded a time of 2.20.96 and qualifying 5th fastest for the final, she went on to improve her time slightly to 2.19.77, maintaining her 5th position.
Day 2 was another busy day, Niamh's first event was the 100m Backstroke, finishing in a disappointing time of 1.07.88, saw her finish 17th overall. Niamh’s next event was the 100m Butterfly, after a disappointing swim in the 100m Backstroke, she was determined to swim well. With a personal best time of 1.02.62, her heat time of 1.03.54 placed her 10th fastest for the final. However, Niamh went on to improve her placing to 7th overall in the final with a time of 1.02.67, just 0.05 slower than her personal best time.
Day 3 was the 200m Breaststroke event, disappointed with her performance from the previous day in the 100m Backstroke, she hoped to have a better day, qualifying 7th for the final in a much slower time than her personal best, she maintained her place, finishing 7th in a slightly better time than her heat in a time of 2.35.16, however still off on pace.
Day 4 was the 50m Breaststroke. After a great heat swim, Niamh qualified 3rd fastest for the final in a time of 33.37. In the final, Niamh slipped a position just missing out on the medals into 4th place, however improved on her heat time finishing in 33.27. In the heats session, Niamh also competed for her Pioneer 79 Swimming Club in the 4x200m Freestyle Relay Team. Swimming the second leg, she assisted the team in climbing 3 places to finish as 17th fastest team in Britain.
Day 5 Niamh competed in the 50m Backstroke, qualifying for the final in 5th position with a time of 30.96, there was less than a second from the fastest qualifier to 6th fastest qualifier. In the final, Niamh improved her time to set herself a new PB, Junior and Senior IOM Long Course Record time of 30.44.
The final day, Day 6 was Niamh's favourite event, the 100m Breaststroke. Qualifying for the final in 9th position, she bettered her place to 7th in what was a very close final, just slightly slower than her PB in a time of 1.11.38.
After a gruelling week at Ponds Forge, Niamh had a well earned days rest before she was back in the pool competing as part of the Pioneer 79 Girls 14-16years 4x100m Freestyle Relay at the ASA (England) Summer Championships. The team, who qualified to compete 17th fastest, qualified 7th fastest for the final, improving their time by one second to 4.03.35, they maintained their 7th position. Niamh returned to Sheffield 4 days later to compete in the 4x100m Medley Relay at the same competition. The team entered the event 4th fastest but with less than half a second separating 1st-4th fastest, they knew that if they all swam to the best of their ability, there was a possibility of a medal. After the heats, the team qualified 3rd fastest for the final with a time of 4.29.38, however, after a gutsy and nail biting swim in the final, the Pioneer 79 girls took pride of place on top of the podium, winning the race by just 2/100ths of a second! An amazing end to 2 weeks of intense competition and finishing the season on a high. To watch the race as it unfolded, click on the following link, then scroll forward to 2.41.50 to watch the race.(It's worth watching!) Also in the relay was Eleanor Collin, also a former St Cuthbert’s Brownie and Guide member.
With the National Championships now completed, Niamh's next major event is the Commonwealth Youth Games which are being held in Samoa from 5th-12th September 2015. Here she will be competing for the Isle of Man, as you can imagine, she is extremely excited!