It was the day of the 23rd ESSA National Primary Schools’ Team Championships at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield.
Sophie Pilkington, Lottie Jackson, Anna Thompson and Alice Guest (pictured), competing in the 4x25m freestyle relay, had to qualify for the competition by navigating through two qualifying rounds.
The first round was the Hampshire Schools’ Primary Team Championships, which the girls won, and then the South-East Schools’ Primary Team Championships, where the Medstead foursome came third.
Going into Saturday’s final, the girls were ranked eighth in the country in the small schools category, with a time of 1min 06.48sec.
All four are members of Alton Swimming Club, but needed extra training because the school does not have a pool. Some of the club coaches provided these sessions and this additional practice would eventually pay off.
On the day, the Medstead team had to make it through qualifying to stand a chance of gaining a podium place in the final. There were 24 schools in total and only the fastest eight would advance.
The girls finished qualifying with a time of 1-00.56. In itself, this was a remarkable achievement because they took nearly six seconds off of their previous best time.
In the final, the girls did the unthinkable and took a historic bronze medal in a time of 1-01.09.
Medstead Primary School was the only state school competing this year.