From the 29th to the 31st March City of Sheffield Swim Squad hosted their annual Premier Meet which was again a huge success for the club and the swimmers. 80 Clubs from around the country came to the Steel City, and a total of 697 swimmers were packed into Ponds Forge. The steel history of Sheffield is well known in swimming and City of Sheffield Swim Squad is often referred to as Team Steel amongst the swimming community. Over the weekend Team Steel took home 36 gold, 37 silver and 21 bronze medals, with 66 swimmers qualifying for a final. The date of the Premier Meet means it is ideal to qualify for the British and English Nationals in summer, as it sits perfectly in the qualifying window. With these results the Team Steel swimmers put themselves in a great position to qualify for the Nationals in July and August.

One such swimmer was the ever improving Isla Jones, who is already a multiple Yorkshire Champion and racing in the 12 year age group. However, at the Premier meet she was competing in the 14 years and under finals, both in the 200m Butterfly and 100 Butterfly, she battled her way to a marvellous silver and bronze medal. Another prospect is Thomas Wilkinson in the 13 years age group, who seems to excel at all 4 strokes and proved this by dominating the 400 Individual Medley taking the Gold in a new personal best of 5:10.50. Phoebe Cooper also proved she is a fine Medley swimmer smashing her personal best of 6:03.98 by over 20 seconds and claiming the top spot in her age group. After missing out on the gold by 1/100 of a second over the 200m Freestyle Grace Conroy made up for it the next day with a true demonstration of raw speed by winning the 100m Freestyle 14 years and under final in 1:00.97. Hopefully she will crack the magic one minute barrier on her next swim. On the 100m Backstroke Annabelle Wilkinson took the lead early on from the outside lane and powered through touching in first place. Over the 200m backstroke, Issey-May Reeves won the 15 years and over final with a dominating performance, despite being in the youngest age group in the final. Mykhaylo Rozenfeld and Curtis Harper took a silver medal in the 200m Breaststroke and 100 Freestyle final respectively. Matthew Woodhall started his weekend with a fantastic new personal best in the longest event at the meet; the 1500m Freestyle, also taking third spot on the podium. After Cole Hewitt’s finish in the 100m Butterfly 15 years and over final you could see how much it meant to him getting under 57 seconds for first place. This will be a huge stepping stone on his way to becoming a top fly swimmer.
For some of our younger swimmers it was a great experience to race in a final with older swimmers as they will have to become used to this when competing in open finals. Swimmers such as Charlotte Bianchi, Sophie Bromley, Max Russell and Finley Allman all gained great experiences and swum some fantastic races over the 200m Breaststroke, 200m Backstroke, 200m Butterfly and 100m Butterfly, respectively. These performances will give Team Steel a lot of promise in the coming years. It is a very exciting time for these young swimmers, but a lot of training still needs to be done to reach the heights of Team Steel’s very own Olympian Ellie Faulkner.

But it wasn’t just the younger ones, or “Ministeel”, swimming, the older swimmers from the Senior Elite squad were racing as well. They were not trying to qualify for Nationals or aiming to get personal bests. Rather they were going through their final tweaks before they head up to Glasgow in two weeks’ time to compete at the British Swimming Championships. At these Championships from the 16th-21st April they will be racing to try and book themselves a place on the Team GB squad for the World Championships in the summer. With her performances at the Premier Meet, Kate Clifton will be feeling confident going into the Freestyle sprint events. Other swimmers to look out for are Amy Bell over the 400 Individual Medley, Isobel Grant over the Butterfly events and Lilly Boseley over the Backstroke. On the men’s side; Charlie Brown and Elliot Clogg will be going head to head in the 100 Backstroke. Jay Leliott will hope to continue his good form this season when he goes on to compete with the best of Britain over the 400m Freestyle. Seeded second fastest in the 100m Butterfly event will be Cameron Brookes-Clarke. Can he cause an upset and take the gold? But it won’t just be our Seniors competing, some of our young stars who also made a splash at the premier meet, Reuben Visda and Eugene Brookes-Clarke, will be aiming for more success at a higher level.

Team Steel can be hopeful of a bright future after hosting another fantastic meet with so much up and coming talent. They should be more than inspired when our established stars race in Glasgow. But they are not the only stars, a special thank you to all the volunteers who helped at the Premier Meet, we could not have put on such a great competition without you.