We met up at Heathrow airport with some of us arriving just in time due to a long hold up on the M25. We managed to check in on time and without any problems. While we were waiting to board we all played cards except the coaches who spent their time buying up most of the duty free shop.
After though carrying all our luggage up the three flights of stairs to the changing rooms Georgie revealed to us what she and Nicky had bought in the Duty Free shop by dropping the bag and smashing the many bottles of wine!
Down to the pool where we saw some familiar English faces and this made us feel more at home. After a hard day we all just wanted to fall asleep, but we had to get to the hotel first. This was harder than we thought as there was only one coach for all the competitors, we ended up sitting on the other competitors laps as we were the last to squash on the coach.
The competition included both Junior and Age-Group swimmers and some 15 countries with a total of 106 swimmers were represented at Dusseldorf. Countries included USA, Korea, Slovakia, Germany, Spain etc. Thursday was a training day with lots of walk-throughs, and pool time. Since we arrived we'd been trying to look confident but our nerves were getting the better of us already. The first day of the competition arrived and we were up early and off to the pool, the Friday timetable included the Figure competition and Duets. The atmosphere of the competition was great with all the countries enthusiastically supporting each other the whole time. The figures went well and to celebrate afterwards we had our best meal of the trip (PIZZA HUT!). We left Kelly and Katie behind preparing for their duet but we didn't forget them - they had a take-away instead. The duet was swum to an excellent standard with Kelly and Katie coming third and receiving medals and a trophy for a fine effort.
Saturday saw the usual journey of the coach from the hotel to the pool, and the events for the last day of competition were solos in the morning/early afternoon with the teams to follow later in the day. Katie swam an eye-catching solo routine just missing out on a medal by coming fourth overall.
We swam our team better than ever before and finished sixth overall and first of the age group teams.
The competition over with, the presentations done it was time for swimmers, judges and coaches to relax. The wave machine was switched on for us and we also used the Aquazoom and probably took the record for the most number of people to go down backwards in a chain. Back to the hotel for the last time in the coach and we thought it was all over now, but we had to make up our part of the entertainment for the evening party. The night was very enjoyable and long with each country doing its bit. We swapped pins, took photos and made new friends and got on very well with the other countries despite some language difficulties. Sunday dawned and it was time to go home, our time in Dusseldorf had gone very quickly for us and before we knew it we were back at Heathrow. Our parents were waiting for us and it was time to say good-bye to the squad and go our separate ways. We had got on very very well as a group and we were sad to see each other go, consequently there were some emotional good-byes. It had been a wonderful experience and an incentive to try harder than ever in the coming year so as to qualify for another squad. On behalf of: JODY, NIA, ALICE, KATIE (Hooper), KELLY (Wise), MICHELLE, EMILY (Duerden), LIZ, GAYLE, CLAIRE, MARIE, EMMA, We would like to thank: Speedo for sponsoring us and providing our kit, the ASA for their support, the Dusseldorf committee for organising the event. Josie for managing and organising the squad and for keeping us under control, Nicky and Georgie for their coaching, encouragement, keeping us amused and teaching us proper English pronunciation as used in Bristol. Mike Firmin and Pat Holmyard for coaching, judging, advice and encouragement. Finally parents for their support, flag waving and cheering in Dusseldorf!