Eat, swim, sleep, repeat. Eat, swim, sleep, repeat.



31st October 2017

Eat, swim, sleep, repeat. Eat, swim, sleep, repeat. The mantra I've been hearing over the past two months. All swimmers and I'm sure all of the supporters were exhausted after the first day in the pool.  But as is nature's way, a good night's sleep after a hearty bowl of pasta meant the swimmers were keen to continue where they left off yesterday.


Down at the pool, the swimmers had done their warm-up and were waiting to be called to the holding room. First one in was Andy Banks in the 800m freestyle who came in third, with a bronze, not a bad start to the day.

The 50m backstroke, our next,  race would surely ensure a few Brits in the afternoon finals and maybe a medal or two. Or was I being greedy?  Four heats, 23 swimmers, 14 from the UK. Probability was on our side.  


Lizzie Allen, our youngest swimmer, looked decidedly nervous. Her mother even more so. Great swims from all the girls delivered. Three swimmers,  Caroline, Florence and Holly got through to the final, so a full afternoon of entertainment was assured.

Four races later Lizzie was back in the pool doing the 100m breaststroke, this time she seemed somewhat more relaxed. She emerged from the water without a place in the final but was beaming from ear to ear having completed her first international competition and becoming the 3rd fastest European champion.

It turned out to be another beautiful afternoon in Bobigny. The sun shone through the windows and the temperature poolside began to rise. It was not long before all the spectators were in their shirt sleeves.

Flags were at the ready for the medal ceremonies that would follow, the officials were waiting to enter poolside accompanied by rousing music and enthusiastic clapping from the crowds and the swimmers were warmed up.

Our first medal was a gold for Ellen Stephenson one of our two mosaic swimmers. Team GB have two mosaic swimmers at these championships, Alex and Ellen. Both girls are a force to be reckoned with and though still young add enormously to the team. With only three female mosaic swimmers in total in the whole championships, one would have envisaged fierce competition. But the camaraderie and 'bonne entente' between them all - especially the GB girls is wonderful to see. A lesson to us all.



The women's 50m final was everything that it had promised to be. With over half of the entrants being Brits we were right in thinking there would be a good representation in the finals. Caroline, Holly (one of DSSGB's new swimmers) and Florence were there for us and they didn't disappoint. A great swim by all with somehow, from somewhere Florence coming in with gold. Perhaps it was the lunchtime siesta, perhaps the phone call from her coach back in Macedonia, perhaps the green lentil and chicken salad, perhaps God's provenance - probably all her training day in day out - that pulled her through. Not sure what but it worked and the gold was hers. A great moment for all to be had.

The swimmer of the day, without a doubt, however, had to go to Stephen Boyce in the 100m medley relay. Spectators were sitting, as usual, on the terraces way above the pool. There were fewer people than at the beginning of the day, people were tired, it was getting late.  Team GB were up against the Portuguese and French. Being the home team the French had quite a large support team cheering from the sides. There was a small feeling of old rivalries between the two nations coming to a head. Surely not - this is a friendly sport - I wasn't sure, however.

Billy led doing four lengths of backstroke. Without a doubt our strongest swimmer, the Portuguese still managed to be ahead right from the start.  Mark Holmes - a true veteran - went in next with the breaststroke and though he didn't catch up he certainly maintained our position.  Third in was Zac doing butterfly. Just looking at him made me tired and it is true he did close the gap. But it was Stephen Boyce who without a doubt saved the day. Fourth off the block, he dived in. It was quite amazing to see. His parents remained quiet and composed throughout. No one else did. We cheered and screamed as Stephen not only caught up but overtook the Portuguese. He won by a whisker, it could not have been closer. Stephen's mother at this stage could no longer compose herself. It was a truly magical moment  The day went to you Stephen there's no doubt about that.

So, day 1 saw eleven medals, day 2 twelve. Can we assume day 3 will deliver thirteen?

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Comments

  1. Absolutely wonderful achievements for our British swimmers. Cannot wait to see them swim on Thursday.

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