Foundation Swimmers Scoop Seventeen Medals And New Record At National Olympic Park Championships

Following in the wake of last year’s national medal haul success, the Princethorpe Foundation Swimming Team triumphed once more at the Independent Schools’ Association’s (ISA) National Swimming Championships held at the London Aquatics Centre, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Saturday 21 January. The buoyant team of ten, part of a squad representing the Midlands and competing against tough competition from eight other areas, scooped an impressive seventeen medals between them including one new ISA national record and helped team Midlands swim to overall victory.

For veteran swimmers Mollie Dibb (Year 11) and Caitlin Newport (Year 10), who have competed at the event for the last five years and three years respectively, the competition marked a highlight in their swimming calendars. The pair came home with seven medals between them, including a gold in the Year 11/13 100m Breaststroke and bronze in the Year 11/13 100m Freestyle for Mollie and a silver in the Year 9/10 100m Breaststroke for Caitlin.

Also swimming for the Foundation for her third successive year was Year 8’s Lucia McCosker-New. Initially coming first in the Year 8 Girls’ 50m Freestyle race, Lucia was unfortunately disqualified for movement on the blocks. Learning a valuable lesson for future races, Lucia did not come home empty handed as she secured a silver medal with her Midlands teammates in the Year 8 Girls’ 200m Freestyle Relay.

Alongside the Foundation’s veteran swimmers were several newcomers to the event including Princethorpe’s Jess Mackenzie (Year 7) who kept her nerves under wraps to swim a new ISA National Record of 34.15 seconds in the Year 7 Girls’ 50m Backstroke to secure the gold medal. Jess also bagged a gold in the Year 7 Girls’ 50m Freestyle and bronze in the Year 7 Girls’ Freestyle Relay. Fellow Princethorpe first-timer Charlie Bracken (Year 8) seized a bronze medal in a very competitive Year 8 Boys’ 50m Freestyle race and supported the Midlands team to gain gold and a new national record in the Year 8 Boys' 200m Medley Relay and silver in the Year 8 Boys’ 200m Freestyle Relay. 

Commenting on her experience of swimming in an Olympic pool for the first time, Jess Mackenzie said, “The competition was really high so I was nervous, but the experience was great.” Agreeing with Jess, Charlie Bracken added his recommendations for first-time competitors, “Just don’t think about the crowd or it being an Olympic pool – make sure you have fun!”

A special mention goes to Upper Sixth swimmer Noah Slinn who, although no longer officially training, swam for Princethorpe at the Midlands regional gala and unexpectedly qualified for the Nationals. He gained two well-deserved bronze medals in the Year 11/13 Mens’ Freestyle and Medley relays.

At the other end of the age range, Foundation junior school, Crackley Hall’s ‘dream team’ – as coined by team manager Miss Jones – saw three newcomers at the event from Year 4; Olivia Bates, Carys Warrener and Samuel James plus Year 5’s Eva Plevin who was competing for her second year.

Newcomer Olivia Bates (Year 4) claimed a silver medal in the Year 4 Girls’ 50m Breaststroke after having to swim the race twice (!) as a faulty buzzer meant the race was restarted. Amazingly, Olivia still managed to get a faster time second time round and secured Crackley’s first medal for the event. If one medal was not enough (and with only a 20-minute recovery period from her first race), Olivia was going for gold and went on to win the Year 4 Girls’ 50m Backstroke.

Comments Mrs Lou Harrison, Head of Academic PE at Princethorpe College, “We are very proud of all our swimmers. To have representation at ages 8 through to 18 is fantastic. The commitment of our pupils for the hours they spend in the pool and determination they show is second to none. We also extend our thanks to all our parents, for without their endless support and hours of commitment on the poolside, we wouldn’t be able to celebrate success at this level.”

Top Image L-R: Lucia McCosker-New (Y8), Charlie Bracken (Y8), Mollie Dibb (Y11), Caitlin Newport (Y10), Jess Mackenzie (Y7) and Noah Slinn (Y13).

Bottom Image L-R: Samuel James (J4), Carys Warrener (J4), Olivia Bates (J4) and Eva Plevin (J5).