Team ‘Wolfpack’ from Life Leisure’s Stockport Metro swimming programme has had yet another world class season.
The European Championships in Glasgow was the setting for one of the club’s rising stars, Holly Hibbott, 18, to show why she is fast-becoming a team GB success story.
Buoyed with confidence from silver and bronze at the Commonwealth Games in April, Hibbott shows no sign of slowing her progress, winning gold with her team-mates in the 4x200m freestyle, and two bronze medals, including in the 400m freestyle with a personal best time 4:05:01.
She follows a long line of medal-winning swimmers to have come through Stockport Metro’s High Performance Centre at Grand Central, including Keri-anne Payne, James Goddard, Steve Parry, Cassie Patten and Graeme Smith, and is moving quickly up the elite rankings, her sights now firmly set on the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.
Domestically the club also delivered with a bang in Sheffield’s Ponds Forge pool at the National Championships, the club finishing equal top of the gold medal table and producing medals at every distance.
Winning five gold medals apiece were Katie Matts, 19, and Lizzie Harris, 17, with Matts dominating in breaststroke events, winning the 50m, 100m (in a PB) and 200m, and Harris going under two minutes for the first time to win gold in the 200m freestyle (17-18yrs).
Earlier this year Lizzie also won two golds at the World School Games, putting in a lifetime best of 4.14 to win the 400m freestyle.
Also showing excellent form, and further reflecting the young talent currently training at Life Leisure’s Stockport Metro facility was Alisha Hawkins.
In her first ever event representing team GB, the 17-year-old took 13th place (out of 36) in the women’s 7.5km at the European Junior Open Water Swimming Championships.
‘It’s fantastic to be a part of’
Multi Olympic medal-winning coach Sean Kelly, Director of Performance at Stockport Metro, believes the current group of swimmers training at the Stockport facility, are beginning to show the qualities required to deliver on the world stage.
Sean said: “The programme in Stockport provides everything an athlete needs to win at the highest level.
“Seeing what can happen when you mix happy, dedicated, hard-working athletes with world-class facilities and support from individually tailored, coach-led training programmes, is incredible.
“Get this right and that team starts becoming unstoppable – with the swimmers we have now, I feel we are definitely on this track. We are on a mission and want even more success.
“As well as having individual stars, the wider team has an abundance talent at all levels and age groups, so much so that this year Stockport Metro won the county and regional league championships and rounded off the summer as ‘A’ finalists in the National Arena League (senior and junior).
“Results like that aren’t possible unless you have a really great team of swimmers, coaches and supportive parents working to help each other progress. It’s fantastic to be a part of.”