BRIDLINGTON’S Grace Dennis has again been taking to the pool alongside Olympic champions at the 2011 British Gas Swimming Championships held in Manchester.
Just getting to the ASA’s premier event was a massive achievement for the 14-year-old, as the aggressive qualifying times mean that only a small handful of youngsters get to mix it with the likes of Rebecca Adlington, Fran Halsell and Liam Tancock, who are all hoping to impress and make it into World Championship squads.
Grace’s dad Geoff said: “Poolside amongst these stars is a daunting environment for a young girl from Bridlington.
“On the opening Saturday, Grace battled with nerves and left disappointed with her time in arguably her strongest event the 400m freestyle.
“Despite this, she demonstrated great character to bounce back in her next two races.
“On the Monday she produced a 2:06.69 in the 200m freestyle and a few days later a 59.25secs in the 100m freestyle.
“Her best performance came in her last event, the 800m freestyle, where she swam against Olympic silver medallist Keri-Anne Payne.
“Grace, crippled by significant nerves again, rose to the challenge to produce a personal best of 9:03.50 – taking a few scalps as a result.”
Despite the poor start Pete Richardson, head coach at the Kingston Upon Hull swimming club, was delighted with how the week unfolded.
He did admit to being slightly alarmed when Grace briefly led the 800m freestyle after 50m but said the experience gained at this level of meet is invaluable.
Grace now turns her attention to the National Championships in August.