Bognor Swimming Club won a hard fought victory in the Sussex League against the 1066 and Lewes clubs.
The result was incredibly close, with the final result depending on the last of the 55 races, the squad event.
In the end, the swimmers secured 28 first places, 14 seconds and 11 thirds.
This is always a cacophony of noise and the added tension ensured the supporters and children cheered their eight swimmers loudly.
Bognor had a two-point lead on 1066 coming into this final race and a time of 4min 25sec and a three-second ensured victory for Bognor.
This was their first Sussex League victory since 2010.
At the start of the evening at the Sovereign Centre, Eastbourne, it was the last thing on the head coach’s mind as he contemplated having only one adult male swimmer following a spate of illness.
But Katie White, the current under-ten Sussex champion, who had been swimming on the other side of the county, arrived with minutes to spare, though clearly tired.
Nineteen of the 55 races did not have Bognor swimmers down to take part but a number of swimmers volunteered to race in additional events, meaning the club’s swimmers regularly raced against children three to four years older than them as well as adults.
Alys Turner and Felix Boote-Cook, both 12, swam against adults in the relays. They were unable to match the adults for speed, but the fact they took part meant the team picked up two valuable points.
This dedication allowed Bognor to build on the lead they had accumulated in the first four races, where they secured three first places, two seconds and a third. This lead was slowly but surely eroded as the three hours of swimming reached its climax.
For the girls, Abbie Turner, 15, had an excellent evening and seems to be returning to her best following injury. She won four individual races, came second in two as well as helping the under-16 relay team to two first places and was part of the squadron.
Her sister Alys also had a successful night, competing in the squadron alongside her. She won three relay races and three individual races.
Katie White won four individual races and four relays, while Daisy Donoghue, 12, achieved two first places, two second places in her individual races and was a key part of four winning relay teams.
They were ably supported by Mia Cunningham-Stockdale, 15, who achieved a second in the 100m breaststroke, Tina Turner, Beth Hirons, Amber Macrae, Imogen Ede, Millie Rixon, Jessie Moon and Aimee Cowell in her first team gala.
The boys refused to be outdone. They won two relay races, coming second in a further two. Individually, there were also a number of successful swims.
Josh Hockey, 14, swam in both the under-16 and adult categories, achieving three first places and two seconds.
Tom Hogg, 11, came first in the 50m butterfly and second in another close contest. Henry Hayter, 11, won the 50m backstroke, while Adam Woodruff, also 11, won the 50m breaststroke.
Felix Boote-Cooke was second in the 50m freestyle and won two relays. Nathan Cowell, 13, achieved second place and a third and was part of the successful relay teams.
He was also involved in the tightest race of the evening as three swimmers were split by less than a quarter of a second. He lost out to second place by two hundredths of a second, the equivalent of being a centimetre behind.
James Hurran, 15, bravely raced in the under-16 and adult categories and helped the under-16 relay team win their freestyle event, while Owen Cullen, Chester Banton and Daniel Boon, all nine, and Tyler Van-Zigl, 17, were all taking part in their first gala.
In the end, the swimmers secured 28 first places, 14 seconds and 11 thirds. They move on to the next round on Saturday, June 6, against close rivals Chichester Cormorants and hosts Beacon Swimming Club from Crowborough.
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