Each week in the build-up to the Games we have received updates about our Commonwealth Games starlets and how they have been preparing.
This week, Niamh Robinson’s mum Suzanne gives a day-to-day account of her participation in the British Gas International Swimming Championships in Manchester as part of her build-up to the Games.
NIAMH’S first event of the competition was the 50m backstroke. Heading into the event with a time of 31.30 secs, she went on to produce a new personal best of 31.29 (just 1/100th of a second faster than her previous time). The fastest 16 and under swimmer’s time was 30:32 Niamh missed out on the final, finishing joint 12th with two other girls.
After attending Canon Slade School in the morning, Niamh returned to the Aquatics Centre to compete in the 200m breaststroke and 50m butterfly heats. In the heat of the 200m breaststroke, she finished with a time of 2mins 40.25secs, slightly disappointed with her time, she was determined to do better in the final as she qualified seventh fastest overall for the 16 and under age group final.
The 50m butterfly was 15 minutes after her previous 200m breaststroke heat and she entered the ‘splash and dash’ event revved up and focused on doing a decent time. Going into the competition with a time of 29.71, she was extremely pleased with her performance of 29.15, producing another personal best and qualifying eighth fastest for the final to be held the following day.
Niamh arrived at the pool bright and early in order to prepare for her first finals session of this competition. After watching the recorded footage from her 200m breaststroke heat from the day before with her head coach, they meticulously went through the race, picking up various areas of her performance requiring improvement. The fastest qualifier for the 200m breaststroke final was European Youth Olympic Festival gold medallist in this event, Abbie Wood from Derventio (Sheffield). At the 50m point, Niamh hit the turn first with a split time of 35.22, 0.7 seconds ahead of Wood. At the halfway point (100m) Niamh had stretched the lead to 1.7 secs, touching in a time of 1.14.23, and she just kept going!
At 150m, Niamh had yet again pulled further away, taking the lead up to 1.89 seconds turning in 1.54.68. Could she hold on? With just 5m to go, Wood had visibly closed the gap, but Niamh successfully managed to hold her off, taking first place in a phenomenal personal best time of 2.35.50, – 2.5 seconds faster than her previous best.
Less than 10 minutes later, Niamh was back in the pool for the 50m butterfly final. The winner of the final finished in a time of 28.42 and Niamh was extremely pleased to finish eighth in yet another personal best of 28.97, just 0.55 seconds behind the winner! After Niamh had finished her finals and she was taken into school for a couple of hours to do an English exam, she was then collected during her fourth lesson and taken back to Manchester for the Day Three heats.
In the afternoon session, she took on the 100m breaststroke heat and qualified fastest for the 16 and under final.
Niamh competed in the 100m breaststroke final. At the 50m point, she turned first in a new 50m PB time of 33.82! In a very close race, she just managed to hold off her nearest rival, Sarah Tripp, Niamh finished in a PB time of 1:12:12.
Then it was back to school for a couple of hours before returning to the pool for her final event of the competition – the 50m breaststroke.
After setting a new PB in the final of the 100m breaststroke (split), Niamh was determined to see what time she could pull out of the bag.
She knew if she made the final, she knew she would unfortunately have to withdraw because she was due to catching a plane to the Isle of Man to take part in a ‘team building day’ for the Isle of Man Commonwealth Games Team! The race was almost over before you blinked!
Niamh finished second in yet another PB of 33.53! Her next attempt at this event will be the Commonwealth Games . Niamh’s time had amazingly qualified her fifth fastest for the ‘Open’ final, where she would have swum against some of the top British sprinters.
This was a very successful competition for Niamh, finishing with two first places and an eighth position along with the potential to have done well in the 50m breaststroke final.