Spencer soars to seventh in Sheffield

Travelling to Sheffield a strong Spencer contingent reunited to race, meet old competitors, swim together in relays and take part in what truly is a huge celebration of swimming at the highest level in the UK. This is a must-do event in the iconic Ponds Forge International Sports Centre.

This year Spencer finished seventh out 265 clubs, just 3 points away from fifth position. An incredible improvement from last year’s 31st overall standing. What an achievement! Superb swimming, record breaking relays and building on our welcoming club spirit with new recruits and old friends.

We must mention Hodzii ElRidi who came from her native Egypt to race with us once more. Hodzii swam her signature events, the 400IM, placing 6, 200 fly, placing 4, and 200IM, placing 5, as well as taking a bronze in the women’s 4×200 free relay in the women’s 160 age group. Hodzii has been a Spencer out-of-town (out of continent!) swimmer since 2015, and was a Committee member volunteering as membership secretary from 2017-21, her generosity for the club is to be commended.

Another special mention has to be Robyn Le Friec who did a clean sweep in all butterfly events coming first in the 50m, 100m and 200m events: total domination. 

Enjoy some of our swimmer’s stories and until next year!

Karen’s story
It was great to be swimming in my home city of Sheffield after a three year absence. I hadn’t had the best prep for this meet and was nervous about racing the 1500m again. After a tough race and much to my surprise, I beat my time from 2019 and came 4th!   

The 400m free proved to be equally positive as I swam faster than in 2018.

In Spencer tradition I swam in several relays and was rewarded with a bronze medal in the W 4 x 200 free relay (age 160-199).

Finally, it was wonderful to catch up with old friends again and even better to meet up with family whom I haven’t seen since pre Covid times.

Laura’s story
The annual return to Ponds Forge in Sheffield marked a real return to form post illness for me, whilst also trying out a new event.

First up the 1500m freestyle. I hadn’t swam this event in a race for 20 years, last time as an age grouper in my club champs back home. I finished the race in 23:03 ranking 4th in age group which was awesome.

Wildly underestimating how much the 1500m would tire me out I also did the 200m free individual and a leg of the 4x200m freestyle relay on Friday. Our relay time came 3rd in our age group so we came away with a cheeky bronze medal! Well done and thank you ladies – Karen Bassett, Hodzii and Emily Hayter.

Not entirely recovered by Saturday I did a very painful 400m free individual, but coming in 4 seconds quicker than what I swam in May, I can’t really complain!

By Sunday afternoon I felt ready for the 800m freestyle. As an age grouper this was always my strongest event. I did the 800 in 11.51 and came third in my age group! I couldn’t believe the time: it was 15 seconds faster than Aberdeen in June, and I’d also smashed my pre-illness PB proving that I truly am back to fitness post cancer and that #thisgirldefinitelycan! I was really stoked about my individual bronze medal. A perfect end to a brilliant weekend.

Amanda’s story
Highlight of the weekend was our World Record in the women’s 4×100 medley team (with Helen Trippe, Esther Iseppi and Di Ford.) It was the Saturday evening session, and we were all a bit tired by that stage, so it was touch and go, but Di brought us home with a superb front crawl leg (I think she thought/wished she was doing breast!) to knock a few tenths off our own record. Earlier in the day, the same team broke the European record for the 4×50 medley (which wasn’t ours already). 

My individual results were a mixed bag: absolutely on target for 200 and 400 IM, where I broke my own European records, plus silver in the 100 IM. Disappointed that I didn’t manage to break my world records in the 100 and 200 breast, but surprised and delighted with my British Record in the 50 breast (I’m not a sprinter) and my bronze in the 100 free in 1.13.99, my fastest time in 8 years (I’m not really a 100 freestyler either!).

The thing I love most about Sheffield is meeting up with old friends and talking to new ones – but with a packed agenda of swimming, there is never enough time to catch up with everyone you want to.

Matthew’s story
It was so lovely to see some of the Spencerites I first met at Crawley and to meet many more. Everybody was so friendly.

This was my first ever nationals. And wow! What an experience. So amazing to be amongst so many incredible swimmers and to see Ponds Forge all dressed up like the swimming on the tele. (The last time I swam at Ponds Forge, it was a much more low key affair. It was in a public session whilst working in Sheffield and I was literally the only one in the pool.)

Friday was a tough day. I did 1500m in the morning, 100m back, 200m free and 50m free relay in the afternoon and another 200m free relay in the evening. 

Swimming highlights were a 4th in my individual 100m back and a “pity bronze” in the 4x200m relay. This was the first time I’d done any relays this millennium. 

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