A group of year 7 and 8 students from Harrogate Grammar School reached the National Schools Swimming finals recently. Sassy Palfreman, Rose Forrest, Ewa Hardaker, Louisa Ibbetson and Holly Pickering are all part of Harrogate Swim club where they train 6 times a week totalling 12-16 hours in the pool. This involves 4.30am starts 3 mornings a week for 2 hours of training before their day at school.
The qualifier for the competition took place in Huddersfield, which saw the team winning the Medley relay with a new record time, they also won the Freestyle relay. Both these wins meant the team could progress through to the National School Swimming Finals in London.
The Finals took place at the Olympic pool, which was a dream come true for all the team, Harrogate Grammar School student Rose Forrest said: It was an amazing experience to swim in the Olympic pool and to represent Harrogate Grammar School in a major event like this. When we stepped onto the poolside, we finally realised how rare this opportunity was and how our training had paid off. It felt so special to be swimming in the pool that all of the major stars had swam in; Michael Phelps; Chad Le Clos; Becky Addlington and many more. Also, it felt like a dream come true when we (as a team) stepped onto those blocks for the first time, staring nervously out into the pool. This was it. This had been our goal ever since we decided to start swimming. Without all of the early morning swims and the sacrifices we had made, we wouldn’t have been swimming in the Olympic pool.
In the Freestyle relay there were 3 heats each with 10 Schools competing in each one. The fastest 10 schools made the final and the team Holly Pickering, Sassy Palfreeman, Louisa Ibberson and Ewa Hardaker just missed out by a hundredth of a second. In the Medley relay the team were up against some of the most dedicated swim schools in the country but all swam brilliantly coming 11th nationally out of 30 schools is a fantastic achievement. Rose Forrest achieved her PB (personal best) swimming butterfly in 34.92. The opportunity to swim at a competitive event in such a setting was truly memorable and one the team will not forget.