14th European Police Swimming Championships 10-14th September 2013
The 14th USPE Swimming Championships were held in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine from 10th-14th September 2013. 14 swimmers from the PSUK team were selected to attend this prestigious event which only occurs every 4 years. It is the pinnacle of the police swimming calendar.
Gravett, Birchall, Cunnah, Gamble, Kirby, Standen, Bird, Dixon, Thorn, Paull, Polkinghorne, Steatham, Gaskin, Jones, Bryant, Chidgey, Turnbull
16 of Europe's strongest police swimming nations took part in Ukraine over the 3 days of competition. The event commenced with the official Opening Ceremony in which the hosts had gone all out to impress and make the competitors feel welcome. There were diving and synchronised swimming displays, children dancing and music from their national police band. Sara Gamble, (W Mids) had the honour of being the UK's flag bearer and wore full police uniform, accompanied by Team Manager, Claire Thorn and veterans of the team Chris Jones (S Wales) & Nick Polkinghorne (D&C), both of whom were competing in their 5th European Championships, a fantastic achievement in itself. The finale to the ceremony ended with fireworks, nothing like I had seen in the pool before.
Gamble, Thorn, Polkinghorne, Jones
Team spirits were high and the team supported each other throughout the competition. The overall winners of the European Championships, which included both swimming and lifesaving, were the hosts, Ukraine – who amassed an amazing 13 gold, 6 silver & 7 bronze medals. Several of their swimmers included members of their London 2012 Olympic national team including Igor Borysik, who medalled at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Germany finished 2nd overall; with 12 gold, 15 silver & 11 bronze medals. They too had many London 2012 competitors in their squad, including the overall top male swimmer of the event, Christoph Fildebrant. Russia came 3rd with United Kingdom coming 4th in the swimming. United Kingdom finished ahead of 12 European Countries including the traditionally strong countries of France, Italy, Norway and The Netherlands. France and The Netherlands finished 5th & 6th respectively.
Hayley Bird (W Mids) swam consistently well throughout the competition having 3 individual 4th place finishes; narrowly missing out on the medals in the 50m freestyle & backstroke and 100m backstroke which was in a long course personal best time. Bird was joined by Vicki Standen (W Mids), Hannah Paull (A&S) and Katie Birchall (Lancs) in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay. The ladies came in a respectable 4th place. In the 4 x 100m medley relay Laura Chidgey (D&C) replaced Standen and the ladies again came 4th. Another 4th place was achieved in the 4 x 50m mixed freestyle relay where Brian Steatham (W Mids) & Garry Dixon (TV) joined Bird & Standen.
Every member of the UK team made it into the finals with each of them improving on their heat time. Across the board this was a major improvement on the teams 2009 European results showing the full breadth and depth of the team.
Cunnah, Turnbull, Chidgey, Paull, Standen, Bird, Thorn, Gamble, Birchall
UK's other finalists were:
400m freestyle Jessica Turnbull (Glouc) – 4th – Nigel Gaskin (W Mids) – 8th
100m freestyle Garry Dixon (TV) – 5th - Vicki Standen (W Mids) – 8th
100m backstroke Chris Jones (S Wales) – 4th - Katie Birchall (Lancs) – 5th
50m breastroke Brian Steatham (W Mids) – 7th - Sara Gamble (W Mids) – 8th in the
50m backstroke Katie Birchall - 6th
50m freestyle Vicki Standen – 7th
100m butterfly Hannah Paull (A&S) – 8th
Mens 4 x 100m medley relay (Jones, Polkinghorne, Steatham & Andrew Hosie (Scotland) – 5th
Mens 4 x 100m freestyle relay (Dixon, Gaskin, Steatham & John Kirby (Met) - 7th
Bryant, Jones, Kirby, Steatham, Gaskin, Gravett, Dixon, Polkinghorne, Hosie
Management Team: Bernie Gravett (Ret) Delegate; Claire Thorn (W Mids) Team Manager; Delyth Cunnah (Scotland) & Stuart Bryant (S Wales) Attendants.
Cunnah, Bryant, Gravett, Thorn
From Claire Thorn: "As Team Manager I was extremely proud of the way the swimmers conducted themselves; they swam to the best of their ability, qualifying for finals and improving on their heat times. They were extremely supportive of each other and remained committed and enthusiastic despite the phenomenal competition they were up against. As the Team Manager I could not have asked more of the team and was very proud to have been the manager. I would also like to thank Delyth and Stuart for their commitment and support throughout. Our delegate, Bernie Gravett was an Ambassador for PSUK and despite having a full 'delegate programme' to follow took much time out to support the team; he also was the team masseur".
Our swimmers achieved 18 final placing and while the Ukraine, Germany and Russia dominated the competition 8 PSUK swimmers achieved 4th placing in hard fought and high level racing. It should be noted that the three countries ahead of PSUK take sport very seriously and have the advantage of police training programmes of up to 4 years. All these teams held training camps before travelling to the competition. We can be proud of our performance both as individuals and as a team in this extremely high level competition.
It has already been announced that Germany will host the next USPE Swimming Championships in Hanover in 2017. It would be our hope that we can compete again and improve our positioning in the competition.