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Can she do it in the Nationals? Yes, she can!

During the course of the 2010/2011 swimming season, 11 year old, T.P Properties sponsored swimmer Niamh Robinson achieved six National Age Group Qualifying Times.  National Qualifying Times at any age are extremely hard to achieve, and few swimmers manage to qualify for multiple events.   The National Age Group Championships took place in Sheffield over five days.

Niamh attended the competition with her parents and Head Coach, with the kind assistance of T.P Properties.

The scale of the event became apparent immediately to Niamh, her coach, John McGinty and parents upon arrival at the swimming complex, with many swimmers aged 11-14 from the whole of the country congregating in the foyer.  On the poolside a television screen spanning approximately 8m x 6m in size was the focal point, whilst at the other end was a huge scoreboard.  Two-time British Olympian, Sarah Price was the host and commentator throughout the week.

With Niamh being the only competitor to represent her club this year, it would prove to be an extremely proud, but difficult journey for her throughout the following five days of tough competition.

Niamh’s first event was the 200m Individual Medley.  Nervously she took to the pool, finishing in 16th place overall in a time of 2.46.69, slower than her entry time, but a good ice-breaker for the competition.  The next event was the 200m Backstroke.  Niamh’s entry time of 2.38.91 proved to be just out of reach for her, finishing in 2.44.33, 22nd position overall.

On Friday, Niamh returned to the swimming pool in a much more relaxed and positive mood, having swam below her normal standard the previous day.  This day held her favourite event, the 200m Breaststroke.  In her heat Niamh finished in 5th position in a time of 3.00.26, qualifying 8th fastest overall for the final.  Returning after an afternoon break, she was rearing to go.  At the 100m mark, she turned in 5th place in a split time of 1.25.99.   She continued her fine form throughout the last 100m, but was pipped at the post into 6th place in a personal best time of 2.57.81, just 0.8 seconds away from 4th place. 

On the Sunday, Niamh was to swim in two events.  The first race was the 100m Backstroke, where she swam to 12th place overall, in a time of 1.15.31, just missing the final by 0.5 seconds.  However, her time secured her a reserve finalist place.  Unfortunately, everybody who qualified to swim for the final turned up to compete so that finished the backstroke competition.   Her second event of the day, the 100m Breaststroke was a different story; she qualified comfortably in 8th position for the final, in a time of 1.25.10.  In the final she maintained her position and finished in a time of 1.24.89, just 0.3 seconds slower than her personal best time.

Her final event of the competition took place on Monday.  The 400m Individual Medley went well with Niamh finishing in 23rd position overall, in a time of 5.52.66, slower than her entry time of 5.45.81.  

Throughout the competition swimmers accumulate points for each event they enter; these are called ‘BAGCATS’.  Niamh finished in 21st position overall out of the 71 girls who competed in the 11 year age group, with 1374 points.  A fantastic achievement – Well Done Niamh!

Niamh found the strength of competition extremely difficult to contend with, however, when asked after the event what she thought about her experience, she replied, ‘I was overawed by the scale of the event, but felt much more relaxed towards the end of the gala.  I was very pleased with my Breaststroke results, but I do think I could have done much better earlier on in the competition if I had relaxed quicker.   I will be trying hard throughout the 2011-2012 season in my training and my competitions to achieve more qualifying times which will allow me to compete in next year’s National Age Group Championships.  Who knows, maybe I could even bring back a medal!’  Niamh, all at T.P Properties hope that is just what you do.

Can she do it in the Nationals? Yes, she can!