Dolphin bounce back to Premier League

Having gained promotion to the Arena League Premier Division in 2012 only to suffer immediate demotion to Division 1 last year, Swindon Dolphin resumed their place in the top flight with an emphatic victory in the Arena League Western Division 1 final on Saturday at Millfield.

A significant 52 point margin over second placed Severnside Tritons, in contrast to the slender 11 point win over runners up Yeovil in the 2012 final, would suggest that Dolphin have grown in overall strength over the past two years and there is a greater chance that they will retain their premiership status next year.

Despite the convincing points victory, it was not an evening of repeated individual event wins for Dolphin, with just five victories from the 50 races across the four age groups. There were individual event wins from Jon Audis, Henry Rideout, Livvy Flack and Regan Jefferies although second places in the opening two individual medley events and a dead heat for first place from the girls 200m freestyle team of Maya Grounsell, Charlotte Purvis, Cerys Baker and Megan Adamson did not suggest that an overall meet win would be easy. It was however the higher number of second and third places that secured the victory with 36 top three finishes in total, and a true team effort that saw them lift the trophy at the end of the evening.

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The meet signified the end of the short course season in line with British Swimming’s new competition structure. Amongst the early season short course meets for individual swims, the Arena League’s preliminary rounds provide quality short course competition, with racing and not necessarily times recorded being the primary focus. Last weekend’s final, swum over long course, gave swimmers a taste of the remainder of the season with most not having competed over long course for four months or more. With many county and regional times already in the bag for Dolphin swimmers, the all new national qualifying competition window will soon be open with competitors aiming for ranking positions at the end of the window, rather than qualifying times on the day. How Dolphin fare with this will be seen by the middle of 2015; how the overall strategy will work for British Swimming might take a little longer.

Final scores – Swindon Dolphin 298, Severnside Tritons 246, Carn Brea 238, Torfaen Dolphins 226, Trowbridge 204, Southwold 198, Kingsbridge 198, Truro 193

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