After a weekend of many highs and very few lows, I have the fun task of attempting to summarise our massively successful weekend at the National Speed Lifesaving Championships held at Ponds Forge.  

RASCALS sent a squad of 36 to Sheffield, our biggest yet! The youngest competitors – Alyssa, Megan, Ben H, Ben K, Ella, Georgina, Tom and Josh debuted their skills for the first time in the 12-14 age group, and our oldest competitors literally mastered the masters. The combination of all our top swims placed us 5th in the overall medal table, ahead of Blyth, Leeds and Loughborough – an impressive achievement!  

With 36 competing across 10 different events, it would be impossible to pick out all the incredible swims, but here are some of the highlights:  

12-14 girls:  
With such a strong group of girls we were able to enter 3 relay teams from RASCALS, meaning we had to add another colour to our naming system: Yellow and Blue were joined by RASCALS Green. Each of the teams performed well, securing top 10 finishes.  
Individual performances in this age group were also very impressive. Despite having another year left in the age group, Rebecca Pollicott secured silver in the 50m manikin carry. It was the combination of all her strong swims and ability to be as consistent as ever that has earned herself a place in the GB Performance Squad for 2017 – well done Becky!  
Alex Fox took the highest placing in this age group – managing nerves after watching quicker earlier heats to have a very quick rope throw herself gained her Gold!  
With over 100 competitors in this age group, all of the girls held their own, and showed massive PB’s. The improvement in the last 3 months since our own club championships is a huge achievement in itself. With this weekend being the first nationals for many in this age group, the depth and strength of our young team looks very promising!  

12-14 boys:  
Not to be outdone by the girls, the boys battled it out in the relays and again in their individual events. A very determined swim by the boys in 2 of their relays saw them just miss out on the medals to finish 4th. Yet they were able to stay focused and despite building pressure went one better in the rope throw relay to take bronze!  
Dan Waterfall smashed his PB’s and kept level headed throughout all his events. With another year still left in this age group, he finished in the top 5 throughout all his events, and even took 3rd in the 100m carry with a 6 second PB and claiming the RASCALS record. His ability and strength in all disciplines saw him join Becky in gaining a place in the GB Performance Squad for 2017, our youngest member in the squad!  

15-17 girls:  
Our most successful youth relay team came from the 15-17 girls. Both girl’s teams ranked in the top 8 in all their events, making the final heats impressive to watch and difficult when trying to get splits for! After a quick change into a costume on a train, Millie joined the girls to take silver in the manikin relay to add to her individual silver in the line throw. The Parker duo of Esme and Imi, mixed with an absolutely rapid, superbly efficient and teamworked skill of a smooth handover from Jess Hancock and Emily Field in the medley relay saw them move from 4th to take silver! Our highest relay placing in the youth section!  
The strength of the relays was reflected in the individual swims, with top 20 finishes for Esme Parker, Imi Parker, Gina Holbird and Amy Evans – and most of the girls still have years left in this age category.  
Jess Hancock had an incredible weekend. Any nerves soon vanished after the first few races. Taking bronze in the 50m carry set her up for a weekend full of medals and top swims. A bronze in the super lifesaver in a very highly contested field, silvers in obs, and further bronze medals on the second day in the 100 manikin carry and 100 rescue medley saw her place in the GB Performance Squad firmly secured. A broken foot 3 months a go couldn’t stop her from finishing 3rd overall in the under 18’s ranking, our top performing swimmer! 
Our final RASCALS member to reconfirm her place in the GB Performance Squad was Emily Field, despite still being fairly new to lifesaving. Top 5 finishes across her events is an achievement to be proud of! With years still left in the age category, there is clearly more to come from Emily. And that final leg in the medley relay was as gutsy, determined and impressive as ever!  

The Open Category:  
Our experienced swimmers; the guys who are “always” at training, and always chase PB’s when it matters. Ant Mason is probably the strongest example of this. Many of you may not recognize his face, as it is always face down in the pool training hard, or working out in the gym sinking squats. For those of you who don’t see him at training, his enthusiasm, support and ability to turn a bad race around on competition weekends makes up for it. A top 10 for Ant in his 100 tow, and going 2 seconds quicker than he first thought was the highlight of his weekend. Unfortunately, after sinking a few too many squats a few weeks a go a broken nose meant he had to sacrifice his place in the relays requiring him to dive – Alistair Hutchinson stepped up to the mark and saw the boys finish in the top 10 in their relays.  
Frazer Crump – cool, calm and collected throughout and the middleman in the relay team. Arguably the most reliable when it comes to donning a pair of fins, a sub 54 second 100 carry which is now becoming the norm saw him finish just outside the top 10 in 11th – a big achievement in a rapid open men’s category.  
Sam Wesson – the definition of a hero. Every event tackled with grit and ambition, and still chasing that sub minute in his “favorite” event the 100 carry. I think I speak on behalf of the whole of RASCALS when I say you will be massively missed when you head off to Army training. Not many people can deal with Alistair after shakey starts, Imi after questionable torpedo disagreements, and manage to get Frazer and Ant in place for relays.  

The Masters  
The overall points table got very exciting on Sunday afternoon, with Terry Fox sitting in joint second after a fantastic speedy weekend, winning all of his events! The most impressive being the 200 obs, which he clinched by 0.2 of a second. He joined the open boys in the relays, adding a speedy leg to their strong team and helping them to their top 10 finishes.  
The Masters ladies relay team put in some equally impressive performances, with Rachel Healey tackling her first speeds and helping the ladies take gold in their 2 relays. Becky Emerton beat all her competitors in the 50 carry and rescue medley to take gold, and narrowly missed out in the obs. Karen Dening with partner Sandra Massey also added an individual line throw bronze to her relay gold, after an impressive throw.  
I think that has just about summed up all the results, and I do apologize if I have missed any highlights.  

The weekend was a fantastic event to be at, and it would not have been possible without the dedication of Dan, Dawn and all our coaches and parents. The organization beforehand and the managing of times/being in 6 places at once over the weekend cannot be easy. I think Dan managed to watch all of our swims, except maybe the odd few (It’s a good job Dan Waterfall’s swim was more impressive than mine, hey Dan). The growing junior section, now being coached by Jannine, Becky, Sandra, the Terrys and with the help of our seniors highlights how great we are doing as a club – 4 junior relay teams all securing top 20 finishes at the National Lifesaving Champs!  
Dan – massive massive thanks from all the competitors. The feedback we get post swims, the support we get during lows and the encouragement we get after highs is incredible, and we certainly wouldn’t still be chasing the PB’s without that. Your understanding of all of us as individuals makes the strength that we are as a team. 

I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend as much as I did!  

Jennie