National Arena League ‘A’ Final
On Sunday 22nd April, 36 swimmers from Hatfield Swimming Club and a second coach full of pink and loud supporters left The University of Hertfordshire (where the club trains) at 7.00am for their long trip to Cardiff to compete in the prestigious National Arena League Cup Final.
There is a qualification period from October to December during which clubs from each of the 6 regions across the country compete against each other over 3 rounds. The winners of each of the 6 regional premier divisions alongside the other 4 strongest runners up from those divisions are then invited to the “Cup Final” (A Final) day held in Wales in April at the Cardiff International Pool. The next 10 strongest clubs compete in the B Final on the previous day. Hatfield had qualified for the B Final in 2016 and 2017 so reaching the A Final this year reflected the progress we had already made in winning the London Premier Division in December 2017.
The Arena League is designed so that the country’s best swimming clubs can show off their strengths across four different age groups for boys and girls. The four age groups are u12, U14, u16 and Open. In each category the four swimmers chosen will swim a medley relay and a freestyle relay and the four different individual strokes will also be raced (50m for U12s, 100m for the other age groups, and 200IM in the Open age group). Each of the events is hotly contested in a 10 lane final. The points scored is equally rated across each age group so it really does identify which club has the greatest strength in depth across its membership.
The opening ceremony is full of pomp and bluster with both the national Anthem of Wales and Great Britain, and Land of Hope and Glory, being sung loudly by the competitors and supporters alike. A flag from each club is paraded around the pool and it was an honour for Levi Lucas, Luke Sugden and Shannon and Lauren Stott to carry the flag for Hatfield and the London Region.
We were led off by Laura Copping and Luke Turley in the 200IMs and then it was quickly into the relays. The U12 Girls put in a strong early performance coming 3rd in the first freestyle relay. Plymouth Leander dominated the relays and at one stage won 6 relays in a row.
After a while it became clear that Plymouth Leander, Guildford and Millfield would be competing for the top three places. It was however extremely close for the middle positions with a number of clubs fighting for 4th position. Hatfield, Ipswich, Wycombe and Oxford were all in contention and the positions were constantly changing. A number of strong individual events for Hatfield in the middle of the final and an impressive win for Michael Klimasewski in the U14 100 butterfly put us into 4th place. In the end we finished a creditable 5th, two points behind 4th placed Wycombe.
It was a brilliant day and our two Olympics coaches Janko Gojkovic and Daniel Fogg were delighted with the effort that all of our swimmers put in.
Thank you to all the supporters, officials and coaches for making the day such a great success.
Hatfield ended up in 5th position by two points but we can proudly say that we finished as the best placed club in the country that does not train regularly in a 50m pool.
Hatfield’s target for next year is to make the A Final once again, try to improve on our 5th place this year and to win the supporters’ trophy!