The 62nd ESSA National Relay Finals took place at the London Aquatic centre on Saturday (16 November).
Millais School’s Year 11 Swimmers Jessica Glassford, Emma Harrison, Anna Templar and Millie Weeden returned to this National competition for the fifth consecutive year!
163 “Senior” Girls teams out of 428 secondary schools had initially taken part in qualifying heats across the country in October and the Millais team, who all swim for Atlantis SC, conclusively won the West Sussex heats held at the Pavilions in the Park, to qualify for the finals as one of the top 30, in both the 4x50m freestyle and 4x50m medley events.
The Senior Category, which includes Yr 11, Yr 12 and Yr 13 (Sixth form students), is the toughest of them all and the team had a real challenge on their hands if they were to make it into one of the top 10 winning positions!
Undeterred by this stiff competition, the girls were determined to give it their all and put in some strong performances to come a respectable 18th in the 4x50m freestyle relay and 14th in the 4x50m Medley relay.
The only other schools competing in this category from the local area included close rivals Bexhill College from East Sussex and Reigate Grammar with Issy Hayes, also from Atlantis. As in previous years, it was top sporting independents Plymouth College, Millfield and Mount Kelly, who claimed the top 3 positions on the day.
This is the last year that the talented four will swim for Millais at ESSA. Having represented the school (with Emma Morris) at their first National finals in Year 7 and Year 8 as Juniors, reaching 9th in the 4x50m freestyle medley, they then went on to compete at the finals in Year 9 and 10 as Intermediates and now as Seniors in Year 11. Their greatest achievement was coming 6th overall in the country in the 4x50m freestyle finals last year, the only State School to feature in the top 10!
The team’s success has been based on skill and determination, not to mention very high levels of fitness and coaching gained from their weekly training schedule at Atlantis SC. With a number of new Millais teams entering the qualifying heats this year, it is hoped that the school’s name will continue to appear on the ESSA scoreboards at the London Aquatic Centre for many years to come!
Becky Harrison, Atlantis Coach, who has supported Millais as Team Manager over the years, said: “For the last 5 years, it has been my pleasure to take these girls to the ESSA finals. Watching them swim together as Millais for the last time was quite emotional! They all swam well and should be very proud of their achievements. What other schools’ team can say they got to the National finals 5 years in succession with a highest place finish of 6th in the Country! Congratulations girls!”
Through their dedication and commitment to their sport, Jess, Emma, Anna and Millie have been the School’s most successful team to date and, in the last 5 years, have consistently been one of the fastest State School Relay teams in the country – an achievement they should all be proud of!