With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to the summer of 2021, British Swimming held their selection trials from the 14th to the 18th April at London Aquatics Centre.
The Olympic Trials are the pinnacle competition in every four year cycle for swimming.
Due to the Covid pandemic, this year’s selection trials were a much scaled down affair, with only swimmers within ten percent of the Olympic qualifying time standards permitted to compete. This meant that there were no more than three heats in every event, or no more than twenty-four swimmers in each event.
South Lincs swimmer Emma Croker was accepted into the selection trials in her favoured 50m Freestyle event and had the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the greats of British swimming for a week in London. Emma was one of only two Lincolnshire swimmers to qualify to the competition.
The whole event was organised as a bubble, with swimmers only permitted to be in their hotel rooms or at the pool, or moving between these two venues. Numerous covid tests had to be completed by swimmers and coaches alike in order to avoid bringing the virus into the bubble.
At just 15 years of age Emma Croker was amongst the youngest swimmers participating at the event and she acquitted herself admirably in light of the difficult circumstances. Away from home with just her Coach and having to spend five days in the bubble before racing her 50m Freestyle, Croker acted with great maturity and was not phased, as she undertook training sessions through the week alongside the likes of Adam Peaty, Duncan Scott and Freya Anderson.
Croker was also hampered by the fact that she has been out of the water and her training programme for three months due to the national lockdown. Croker had the opportunity to train only from the 29th March when she was able to get back in the water at outdoor pools at Woodhall Spa and Peterborough Lido.
Despite all these difficulties Emma Croker flew the flag for South Lincs at the trials and swam her 50m Freestyle on the final day of the competition, posting her third fastest ever long course time in the event of 27.42 seconds and finishing in sixteenth place.
Croker’s coach, Keith Haynes said ‘Emma has had an exceptional learning experience over this week, in terms of managing her environment and her daily activities in very restrictive circumstances. She has only had two weeks of preparation for the biggest swim of her life and has gained invaluable experience at the highest level of swimming. It is back to training and our regular programme now as we look to help Emma make further improvements and use this experience as a stepping stone to bigger and better things in her career.’