GSAL students win silver in the national finals of the English Schools Swimming Association.
Students at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) have scooped second place in a national finals competition at the English Schools Swimming Association (ESSA). Darcy Blacker, Hollie Wilson, Isobel Newman and Eliza Jones won their silver medals in the secondary school’s team relay championship at London Aquatics Centre back in November 2021.
The Year 7 and 8 students finished in the top five for the medley relay during the final and beat their personal best times during the junior girls’ 4x50m freestyle relay.
Head of Swimming at GSAL, Alexandra Mehta, said: “The team only started swimming together one month before the qualifiers. They’ve shown a lot of dedication. We are so proud that they represented Yorkshire on the podium of a prestigious national competition.”
The team relay championship is the longest-running competition organised by the ESSA, open to secondary school-aged swimmers from across England with country-wide qualifying rounds held to determine the 20 teams in each section of the national final. The GSAL students are the only team from the Yorkshire and North East region to win a medal in the finals.
After many COVID-related disruptions, Darcy, Hollie, Isobel, and Eliza had to balance their schoolwork with early morning and after school training sessions to prepare for the big final: “It’s been hard work, but it was an amazing experience to compete on such a big stage,” said Isobel.
The students were joined by GSAL’s junior and intermediate boy’s teams, who also represented Yorkshire at the event in what was the 63rd Secondary Schools’ Team Championship at the ESSA.
Head of Geography and Swimming Coach at GSAL, Simon Knowles, said: “So much of swimming is about the individual, so to see our swimmers come together as a team and perform so well at a national level was joyous.”