Deaf Sports Events1st September 2014

Euro Success for GB Deaf Swim Team

GB Deaf Swimming punch above their funding weight to make their mark in Europe

by Richard Lees

The 11th European Deaf Swimming Championships took place in Saransk, Russia in June. A total of 13 countries took part in the new Palace of Water Sports, which was a fantastic venue. Great Britain, under new Coach Sam Chamberlain, took a young and inexperienced team, with seven of the twelve swimmers aged fifteen or under and five of those swimming in a major competition for the first time.

The new swimmers performed fantastically well with 12 year old Ciara Tappenden making the final of the 200m Breaststroke; 15 year old Polly Saines making the final of the 200 Butterfly; 14 year old Jasmine Seamarks making the finals of the 200 Back and 400 Individual Medley; 14 year old Kieran Holbrook making the final of the 1500m; and Emma Lees, 15, making the final of the 400 and 800 freestyle and the 100 and 200 backstroke, as well as winning a bronze medal as part of the 100m Freestyle relay team.

Of the more experienced swimmers, Danielle Joyce, 17, was Great Britain’s most successful swimmer, and the most successful swimmer of the whole competition. Maintaining her recent world record breaking form, Danielle won Gold in the 50m backstroke and dominated the 200m Backstroke winning Gold in a new world record. Danielle also won Gold in the 50m Backstroke, Silver in the 100m and 200m Freestyle, 400 Individual Medley and 100 Backstroke and also Bronze in the 50 Freestyle and 200m Individual Medley.

Lucy Walkup and Emily Noden, both 17, were extremely unlucky in their finals, with Lucy finishing 4th in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke finals, and Emily finishing 4th in the 50 Butterfly. Both girls also finished 4th in the 100m Medley and 200 Freestyle relays with Emma and Danielle. Lucy also made the 100m and 200m Butterfly finals and Emily the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle and 40m Backstroke finals as well.

The competition for the boys was much hotter with the Eastern European teams fielding much older professional swimmers, but Oliver Kenny, 15, still managed to make the finals of the 400m Freestyle, the 100m and 200m Backstroke and the 400m Individual Medley. Luke Nisted, 17, was unlucky to miss out on a place in the 200m Individual Medley as was Tom Baxter, 20, in the 200m Freestyle. For rookie Matthew Oaten, 14, it was a baptism of fire competing with swimmers twice his age, and he is looking forward to the World Champs to get his own back!

Overall Great Britain finished fifth in the medals table. This is an amazing performance considering the strength of the fully funded Eastern European Teams and the average age (and lack of funding) of the British team. They also had the youngest medallist with a Bronze Medal for Emma Lees as part of the 100m Freestyle relay team (from the left) Emma Lees, Lucy Walkup, Danielle Joyce and Emily Noden.

In total, Great Britain had at least one swimmer in eight of the Men’s finals and in all of the Women’s finals which, considering the GB Deaf Swimming Team receive no national funding for the Europeans Championships, shows the strength of Deaf Swimming in Great Britain.

The Great Britain Team of Ciara Tappenden, Jasmine Seamarks, Kieran Holdbrook, Matthew Oaten, Polly Saines, Oliver Kenny, Emma Lees, Luke Nisted, Tom Baxter, Sam Chamberlain Emily Noden, broke a total of 8 individual British records, 1 British Relay Record, 9 Welsh Records, 13 Scottish Records and 17 English Age Group Records.

The Great Britain Parents team had a considerably older average age, but also performed incredibly well and would certainly have received a Gold Medal for support if there had been one!

The Team is now looking forward to the EFDS organised 2014 National Disability Swimming Championships in Manchester in November and then it is the 2015 Deaf World Swimming Championships which will be staged in Texas, USA. It is hoped that GBDS tremendous success in Russia will help to raise the profile of Deaf Swimming and get more British Deaf swimmers involved.

If you are a Deaf swimmer who is interested in joining the GB Deaf Swimming Club, you can contact them through their website:

Article by Richard Lees

posted in Deaf Sport / Deaf Sports Events

1st September 2014