The 2014 PSUK Swimming and Water Polo Championships were hosted by Leicestershire over the weekend of the 5th & 6th April at the iconic Loughborough University, which hosted the 2012 pre-Olympic training camp for the GB Athletes. The weekend was a huge success with over 200 competitors competing, maintaining the high standards displayed annually at this event and continuing the tradition of police sportsmanship.
It was great to see the championships being hosted by Leicestershire for the first time; with the organising committee doing an excellent job and proving themselves worthy hosts.
The swimmers were first to start the weekend of competition off. Arriving at the pool for warm up they caught a glimpse of the GB National Team finishing off their morning session, a truly inspirational sight. The first event following the skins qualifier saw an impressive 43 swimmers enter the 400 freestyle; returning champion Jessica Turnbull (Glous) regained her title and Nigel Gaskin (WMids) comfortably took the men's title
Impressive times were recorded across the ladies open events; Sara Gamble (WMids) had an impressive championships winning 3 open events; the 100 & 200 breastroke and 200 individual medley; the other ladies' open winners were Aimee Ramm (Leic) in both the 100 freestyle and butterfly events; Hayley Bird (WMids) in the 100 backstroke & 50 freestyle and Sarah Hempenstall (Surrey) in the 200 freestyle event.
In the men's events, Nick Polkinghorne (D & C) won both the 100 & 200 breastroke; recording the only individual PSUK Record of the Championships which was great to see after narrowly missing the record last year by 3/10ths of a second. Garry Dixon (Thames Valley) true to form won the 50 & 200 freestyle. The other men's titles were taken by Brian Steatham (WMids) in the 100m freestyle, Chris Jones (SW) in the 100 backstroke and legend Richard Evans (Met) the 200 individual medley. Newcomer Todd Alsop (Met) won the 100 butterfly.
The 200m relays were exciting to watch; West Midlands ladies' won all 4 available to them continuing their multi-year winning streak. Both of the Men's Masters Relays were won in PSUK Record breaking times; the Metropolitan winning the freestyle and Devon & Cornwall the medley. The men's open medley and freestyle relays were won by West Midlands and Devon & Cornwall respectively.
For the first time ever the event showcased a Community Relay; children from local guide groups and swimming clubs joined forces with the swimmers qualifying for the skins final. All participants entered into the spirit of the event and much fun was enjoyed.
The climax of the day was the 'Skins' event for both ladies and men, the event seeing eight swimmers racing over 25m using strokes selected by lottery. After each 25m the slowest swimmer is eliminated, to ultimately leave an overall winner. As usual Stuey Bryant, from South Wales, acted as the compere, adding his Welsh wit to the considerable atmosphere already generated and the event brought the swimming to a fitting conclusion. Hayley Bird (West Midlands) triumphed for the ladies and Garry Dixon (Thames Valley) for the men.
The presentation dinner took place at the Burleigh Court Hotel and after an uplifting display from the Mobray Pipes and Drum Band, the final awards were presented.
With the formalities concluded the competitors partied late into the night with a true play hard, party hard attitude. The next morning everyone said their goodbyes to friends and colleagues vowing to train hard for Manchester in 2015 .....
It is great to see that the 2014 PSUK Swimming Team have a whopping 8 new (or returning!) swimmers in their squad. Those selected to represent the PSUK in the forthcoming 12 months are:
Sara Gamble (WMids); Aimee Ramm (Leic); Hayley Bird (WMids); Sarah Hempenstall (Surrey); Shona Douse (Scot); Vicki Standen (WMids); Gemma Horwell (Derby); Delyth Cunnah (Scot); Lindsay Willis (D&C)
Nick Polkinghorne (D&C); Chris Jones (SW); Garry Dixon (TV); Nigel Gaskin (WMids); Brian Steatham (WMids); Todd Alsop (Met); Richard Evans (Met); Ryan Long (WMids); Paul Frith (GMP); John Kirby (Met); Aaron Jones (GMP); Graeme Wilson (Scot); Reyan Alowaied (D&C), Geoff Boddie (Mers)