Glasgow University Swimming and Waterpolo Club travel to Sheffield for what Deputy Editor in Chief Claire Thomson would call one of her highlights of the year.
There are two momentous occasions in the university swimming calendar every year. The first being the Tech match (Glasgow University v Strathclyde) – a head-to-head battle between two, arguably evenly matched, Glasgow teams, with neither side willing to relinquish their pride nor the status of being the top university swim team in the city. After a point-for-point match, a few weeks ago in the Stevenson Building, laced with controversy, GU took the victory after much deliberation over a relay takeover.
However, the second is by far my favourite swimming event of the year. BUCS Short Course Swimming Championships are for many swimmers the highlight of the season. A journey to British Swimming’s favourite pool in Sheffield in the GUSA mini-buses, the chance to pull together and bond as a team and put all the early morning training sessions into competition in a positive and pressure-free environment. For some teams, short course BUCS is taken seriously, with Olympic and Commonwealth medalists, such as Katie Shanahan and Duncan Scott, fighting for medals and points for their university, especially with the swimming rivalry between Stirling and Loughborough. But for us, we’re just there to have fun and enjoy racing again after many of us gave it up as teenagers. It’s all about relays, supporting one another and remembering why you love your sport.
Short course BUCS is a unique event. The 50-metre pool is divided into two 25-metre pools; women in one half and men in the other, both swimming simultaneously, and the stands, full of student swimmers from across the UK cheering and shouting for their teammates. As far as swim meets go, it’s an atmosphere like no other I’ve experienced before.
In terms of racing, it’s a strange one for me. I’m swimming not only against people who’ve I’ve never raced against before, but also people who I grew up swimming against and have been friends with since I was a child, yet we’ve all gone and done our own things and ended up back where we first met and started. It’s a bit of a surreal, full-circle moment, and something that I cherish and look forward to. I guess it’s true, sport (swimming) brings people together.
This year, fortunately, had its fair share of calamities and moments that we’ll never forget. I would even go as far as to say that it was, not the fastest, but the best swimming competition I’ve ever raced in; and after 15 years as a competitive swimmer, that is quite an achievement for BUCS. From tiger dry robes to vuvuzelas, we came as a team, with the aim of supporting each other and swimming the best that we can. In the words of our coach: “Can’t have people going to hell and back without GUSWPC ultras support”.