On the 1st of December 2016 the St John’s sticklebacks made the journey across east London to Newham to compete in the Penathalon swimming competition. The competition had a mixture of traditional swimming races as well as team events and this year our team were fielding a mix of novice and experienced swimmers. It was a crisp, frosty morning as team St John’s began their journey east however the team’s spirits were high and an air of confidence could be felt on the team bus. We arrived in good time and whilst the swimmers took their places poolside the team manager (Sue Fahey) and the team coach (Michelle Lawfull) began to brief our team on the races that they would be competing in. Our red caps were on and it was time to do our talking in the pool!
Nathan pain was first up in the 25m freestyle race. There is no describing Nathan’s run as he smashed the field by at least 3 metres. Being a timed event however meant that we could not be sure if he had won his race overall. Next up was Kara Harrison in the 25 metre backstroke. Kara like Nathan had won this event last year so there was a nervous expectation hanging over her head. Kara exploded off of the blocks and was neck and neck with the whitefield swimmer after 10 metres. Kara dug deep and gave it everything, as they tipped the line we saw Kara had won her a fingertips. Another timed heat meant that we could not be sure of the final result until later but team St John’s were feeling quietly confident of our second win. Our next swimmer Owen Chalkley was new to the swim team and although eager to compete was feeling the heat of competition. In the width race Owen swam bravely and came in a gallant third. Harry Hayes followed in the float race for the sticklebacks and he didn’t disappoint. In a two horse race at the line Harry used his reach and tipped the side just before the Trinity swimmer. We were halfway through the competition and looking good; although so were Whitefield, Trinity and St Andrews.
We then moved onto the team events with all to play, the first event was the treasure hunt. Joining Harry in this race were new swimmers to our squad, Mathew Cheong, Emma Wild and Isobel Edwards. Our swimmers had to collect rings from the bottom of the pool and floats from the surface in one minute. We will never know which team won but if points were won for effort our team would have earned top marks. Emma, Kara, Owen and Nathan had a similar experience in the ball target race so going into the final race any of five teams could have won the competition. Our swimmers for the raft race were Matt, Kara, Nathan and Harry. They knew that we needed a good result to be in the medals and in the traditional St John’s way the sticklebacks worked as a team and drove each other on. It was now a waiting game for the Medals. Our team gave their final interviews to Shawn Hussain who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get a report out to the team’s fellow students before the placings were called. The pool fell quiet as the announcer called the results and awarded the sticklebacks’ third place and a bronze medal.
Well done sticklebacks and thank you for represented our School, your parents and friends impeccably.