Out To Swim had a very successful time at the Eurogames LBGT sport and culture event held in Stockholm in August. 126 of the club’s members competed in Synchro, Water Polo and Swimming disciplines with some excellent personal and team performances. All events took place in the Eriksdalsbadet – the Swedish national Aquatics venue over five days based on FINA regulations. The close proximity of the competition pools and scheduling enabled a strong and vocal level of cross-discipline support.
The swimming was first and the event ran like clockwork. Out To Swim was one of the larger teams with 64 swimmers, 20% of whom were women, and with individuals in all age groups up to I (65-69). Despite the high standards of competition boosted by teams from the United States and Australia, by the close of the third day OTS had amassed 19 golds, 19 silvers and 13 bronze in the individual events and three gold, four silver and one bronze in the relays. There were stand out performances from Lizzie Bellinger with five golds and three International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) records and Neal Thompson with four golds, a silver and two IGLA records and all swimmers went away with a sense of achievement - many with lifetime personal bests.
Out To Swim’s Orca had 56 members in four teams in the two water polo leagues and made it their best performance in an international competition to date. The A team stunned the favourites, Team New York Aquatics, by beating them in the semi’s, only to fall in a close fought final with Atlanta Rainbow Trout. The other teams did well, also beating expectations and the recently reformed women’s team made a big impression. Orca’s Captain Darren Whittingslow commented “three or four of them could barely swim when they joined, but they have pushed and pushed and broken down barriers. To go from not being able to swim to lasting six games in a tournament is beyond what anyone could have asked for.” One of the opposing teams noted “Your women are bloody fierce".
The Angels – Out To Swim’s Synchro team – also dominated their event both in numbers and sheer quality of performance, winning silver in the technical and free team, silver in the combination team, silver in the duets, and all three medals in the solos. The combination team did particularly well as not only did they include beginners but they also were without two members who had had flights cancelled. It is difficult and perhaps unfair to pick out individual performances, however Derde Exposito Gutierrez was stunning in all three of his events and Zaki Zahran’s and Julie Llorca’s performance of Swan Lake in the duets was electric just missing out on bronze.
Out to Swim Head Coach Michelle Weltman said “I can only say how proud and privileged I feel to be part of such a club!”