20 November 2017
To qualify for the English Schools Swimming Association (ESSA) finals Abingdon School had to be placed in the top 30 of the country. The finals were held at the Olympic pool in London. The intermediate team of Nick Skelton, Dan McNamara, Rory King and Joshua Roche had qualified 5th fastest for the 4x50m medley and 10th fastest for the 4x50m freestyle. The senior team of Simon Chester, Silas Gill, Kai Miles and Scott Yap had qualified 29th for the 4x50m freestyle.
Warmups went well and the intermediate boys medley team was first up with some tough opposition from the likes of Millfield, Mount Kelly and Plymouth College – schools whose sporting and swimming academies are internationally recognised. The team qualified in 11th just outside of the final – although all four boys swam their hearts out. Later that afternoon they swam again in the freestyle relay. The boys qualified in 8th place and were poised to compete in the final that afternoon. In the final the team held onto 8th place against strong opposition with strong swims of 26.14, 27.25, 29.05 and 27.14 over each leg. The team are now ranked 8th fastest in the country. Next came the turn of the senior boys, with the teams qualifying 20th separated by less than 0.60 of a second so racing was going to be close. For Silas Gill it was his first time in the Olympic pool and he swam a blazing 26.08 final leg in the relay. Long term veteran Simon Chester swam a strong 26.17 leg to back up the performances of Scott Yap's second leg of 26.81 and Kai Miles opening 50 metres time of 26.69. Even though the boys were a bit downhearted with their race position they quickly perked up realising they had risen 6 places in the rankings and are now 23rd place in the country. Considering the calibre of opposition – some swimmers landing times dangerously close to British records – the team did really well and we look forward to a return visit next year.