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A lack of recognition or simply a stroke of bad luck?

With the QMBL swim team aiming for unbridled success in the newly formed London league, we ask whether the lack of recognition by the student union as a ‘proper’ sports team will ultimately hinder their hopes

Formed only four years ago, the QMBL swimming team are quickly becoming one of the most competitive teams at university. Having earnestly challenged last year, and after a surge of talent made the team this year, the swim team are hoping that they have now laid the foundations for a dramatic and inspiring campaign.

For all of their hopes, talent and competitive spirit, the swim team are facing an uphill struggle. At Queen Mary, the swim team aren’t always thought of as a real team like football or rugby, and consequently aren’t always given recognition.

Club President Ella Walker emphasised this as their main issue, “We’re trying to build up a force to be reckoned with, but it’s near impossible when we only get a few hours a week to train”.

It could be argued that the SU haven’t given them the backing or publicity that they have given to other clubs, therefore making it very difficult to make an impact. For example, in previous years things such as booking a table at Drapers has become a near impossibility because they’re not considered a ‘real club’. Perhaps one explanation for the lack of recognition is the fact that the club are yet to compete in BUCS, and therefore lack the recognition that other teams do through their regular competition. Other University of London colleges place more emphasis on their swim teams throughout the year and, consequently, these are teams that place regularly at the top of the league.

Colleges who have their own pools, such as Kings and Imperial, train five or more hours a week, whereas Queen Mary only have three hours of training. The teams that have uncompromising university support behind them, both financially and in terms of union support, do consistently well in the league. QMBL swimming club are trying to make a success of the club in the face of adversity.

The vast majority of people who swim do so recreationally and not competitively. Competitive swimming is all about technique and requires hours-on-end working on that technique and refining it, making it completely different to recreational swimming and other team-based sports, where one person can focus on skills, another on attack and another on defence; all over strength is key to success. Unlike football and rugby, swimming is very much a specialist sport. Similar to athletics, it’s a race, it’s over in minutes, and there can only be one winner.

There is not a team to get behind or first and second halves for multiple points to be scored. This in turn may be considered an explanation, not a justification, for the lack of recognition and support from the SU. Having said all this, the 2014/15 year is looking extremely exciting for the swim club, with fantastic new coach, Lorcan Loughry proving to be an invaluable contribution to the success of the team, the huge influx of talented new swimmers and the opportunity to train at the Olympic pool. This is could well be the swim team’s year.

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