Sport and Wellbeing managed to gather 7 teams to battle it out to become intramural swim champions for the first time in 4 years. Swim Club split their team into the 5 faculty squads of Medicine, Engineering, Social Sciences, Biosciences and Humanities. Sportwell also entered with an impressive lineup, which meant the standard would be extremely high and the competition fierce, but SUTRI remained confident that we could cause an upset and entered without a second thought.
Swim Captain Rob assembled a crack team of Triathletes who were brave enough to dive, swim different strokes and tumble turn their way to victory. There was minimal stroke specific training involved so we relied on instinct and talent, but we did spend the evening before the big event practicing our dives and turns. Triathletes tend to swim open water so these 2 aspects of racing were very daunting and SUTRI needed a confidence boost.
The day came and everyone, including our loyal supporters led by Aidan Hindle, and chief timekeeper Mark Fuller assembled on jubilee poolside to start proceedings, after a short warm up we began battle.
We started solidly coming second and third in 4 of the first 6 events courtesy of a rapid Steve Barrett in 50m backstroke, Chris Davey in 100m Individual Medley and the mens and womens 4x100m Medley Relays. Anna Morris also put in decent performance in her 50m backstroke race. Jo House then bagged our first win with a smashing performance in the 50m breaststroke, beating second place by over 2 seconds. This was followed by an impressive third place for Mike Layland in the same event.
This marked the half way stage in the gala and points, which were awarded for positions in events, were accumulated. SUTRI were announced in third place, only 3 points behind Sportwell, the leaders. All was to play for!
When the gala resumed, SUTRI were in no mood to let our good start be the highlight of the day. The girls came through their 4x50m freestyle relay in a fantastic second place and then the boys decided to turn the heat up, leaving the rest of the field behind as they cruised to a win in the same event. Hayley Preston then embarked on her 50m butterfly race and gained more points for SUTRI. Rob Ayres then took to the blocks in the same event, grabbing a third place. Kat Sharp and Mike Layland finished off the individual events by both gaining third places in 50m freestyle and fast times in the process.
It was then time for the cannon race, an 8x25m freestyle sprint involving the whole squad. SUTRI put in an incredible performance, outclassing the rest of the field and winning by over 4 seconds, a huge margin and proving the strength of the squad.
Time for the mystery event, a 200m freestyle race which was only revealed when Chris Davey, who honorably volunteered for us, discovered when standing on the blocks. He still put in a credible performance and gained more points for SUTRI. The gala finished with 2 fun races, the first involving 4 SUTRI members swimming 100m with a large float and the second involving a 4 person woggle chain race for 50m. SUTRI received a second and first place respectively for their efforts.
The moment of truth arrived and the results were announced. SUTRI fought their way to second place, only 2 points behind Sportwell who managed to maintain their slender lead from the half time interval. The points will carry over to the next gala in March where the SUTRI squad plan to swim harder and faster in order to gain the top spot going into the final gala in May.
Although SUTRI did not win the first gala, the event proved to be a great success. There was drama, laughter and a great atmosphere but most importantly SUTRI proved that we can compete with the best swimmers at the Uni, without the need for a bike or running shoes!
Rob Ayres (Swim Captain)