Alnwick third in annual lifesaving event

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Alnwick District Swimming and Lifesaving Club returned to Blyth last Saturday, joining over 250 competitors on the beach to compete in the annual Lifeguard Swimming Festival.

Hosted by Blyth Lifeguard and Swimming Club the festival attracts competitors from clubs as far away as Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and East Kilbride in Scotland.

The team had grown hugely from last year fielding competitors in nearly all the categories from age groups five-eight all the way to ‘Masters’.

Sport Lifesaving is where participants compete to test their skills in all areas of pool, surf or coastal lifesaving.

At Blyth they were required to compete in three beach based events, two ocean races and a surf swim. On land their running, throwing and rescue skills were tested and in the sea they competed in ‘wading’, boarding and swimming races.

The day started with the sea swim with excellent performances by Max Breese and Ruth Doctor winning silver medals, Sara Wellden taking bronze. Pipa Wellden managed an excellent sixth place in a very large (50 plus) field of U14 girls.

The weather conditions were sunny and warm but the wind made fairly choppy surf which resulted in it being a tough race for all.

The coastal challenge race was next - involving a sprint into the sea, followed by a body board ‘paddle’, the competitors then race out of the sea on foot and back along the beach. Boards are then discarded and another lap is contested involving swimming rather than paddling. The team performed strongly with Lauren Brown and Ollie Telfer winning gold, Millie Breese and Cameron Syers silver and Mike Telfer and Eleanor Heeley won bronze medals. Ben Carter also competed enthusiastically paddling well on the rough sea.

The ‘wading race’ is similar to the coastal challenge but is limited to one lap of just running through the surf into waist deep water then racing as fast as you can parallel to the shore for 200m before exiting the sea.

A fast, exhausting race that relies on racing with high knees and not falling over. Ollie and Finlay Telfer, Cameron and Sarah Syers, Lauren Brown all won gold in their races. Ruth Doctor and Millie Breese were awarded silver in theirs. Jen Breese, Eleanor Heeley and Joseph Doctor managed bronze places in their events. Another excellent set of results.

In the beach sprint the Syers family did well with Graham, Sarah and Cameron all winning medals. The Heeley’s were pretty impressive too with Eleanor winning her heat and Rebecca managing an impressive fourth place in the five-eight-year-old category.

Emma Jackson who has just turned 11 did well within a very large field (55 plus) of U14 year-old girls.

She didn’t let her age disadvantage curb her enthusiasm and did a marvellous job of supporting the team.

Our youngest team member to participate was Ellie Syers (four) who enjoyed her day and cheered her friends and family along.

The throwing event requires the competitors to hurl a lifebuoy as far as they can down the beach. Some impressive throws of over 40m were recorded and our team members performed well. Finlay and Lauren both won gold in the nine-10-year-old age group and Sam Doctor threw well to finish just outside the medals.

The beach flag game is probably the most tactical and exciting event. Competitors start lying face down in the sand and on the sound of the starting whistle race down the beach to grab a flag. There is always one less flag than competitors, so after each round one person is eliminated until there is finally a winner. The longer the game goes on the more tired the competitors become and mistakes are made.

Mark Doctor and Gareth Breese delivered a ‘master class’ in tactics and deception to progress well in their competition but unfortunately didn’t quite make the medals.

Lauren Brown had more success winning gold, beating team-mate Millie Breese into the silver medal position. Joseph Doctor, Eleanor Heeley and Ollie Telfer all won the bronze medals rounding off an excellent day and contributed to the Club’s overall score.

In the final overall standings which combine the results of all the events that the competitors contest Alnwick did well.

Eleanor Heeley won bronze in the five-eight age group, Lauren Brown gold, nine-10, and Millie Breese silver, Ollie Telfer won silver 11-14, and finally Ruth Doctor took bronze in the ladies 30 plus age group.

Finally and the biggest achievement of the day was Alnwick’s third place in the overall team competition. The 23 club members excelled in a fun but competitive environment that was new to most of them. They fought off eight experienced clubs from around the country and were rightfully rewarded for all their effort. It was truly a team effort and every individual’s performance contributed to the clubs success.

Alnwick Swimming and Lifesaving Club meet each week at Willowburn Pool and teach a whole range of skills to both adults and children. Please inquire at the Leisure Centre if you are interested and would like to find out more about the club.