Mollie Briggs headed to Pontypool on Saturday 19th June to participate in the Swim Wales Open Water Meet.
The event was also the British selection trials for European Junior Open Water Championships and attracted some of the best distance swimmers in the country to fight it out for a junior international selection.
The event took place at Llandegfedd Lake and Mollie was participating in the 7.5km race in the 16 / 17 years age group. This was the first time Mollie had taken on this distance as, due to competition restrictions over the last eighteen months stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, no open water competition has been held. In fact Mollie's last Open Water race was back in August of 2019 when she competed in the 3km race at National Championships and placed 11th.
Mollie has been in preparation for the event for the last month and has been undertaking not only her regular pool based training, but has been swimming at Tallington Lakes in order to adjust to open water swimming again. This has included two hour sessions in a wetsuit and also without to adjust to the water temperature.
With the official temperature at Llandegfedd coming in at a cool 20 degrees centigrade, the race was declared a skins event, so swimmers are only permitted to race in a swimming suit rather than a wetsuit. Mollie went on to brave the cool temperature of the lake for just under one hour and fifty minutes as she raced five times around a 1500m course.
Mollie began strongly with three solid laps of the course. Mollie managed to avoid getting caught in any packs of swimmers and kept herself out of any trouble – open water can be quite physical at times. Mollie ended up in a pack of just four swimmers fighting it out for their positions. Mollie worked hard through the fourth and fifth laps and got the better of one swimmer who was soon dropped from this group of four. However, Mollie was outpaced in the final lap with two swimmers in her group pulling away.
Mollie managed to take a 19th place finish overall in the girls 16 / 17 years age group, but placed twelfth amongst the sixteen year old swimmers, very much matching her finishing position at Nationals in 2019. The 7.5km course took Mollie 1 hour 49 minutes and 11 seconds to complete.
Head Coach Keith Haynes said, "This was a huge learning experience for Mollie as it is the first time she has taken on a race of this distance. We've learned a lot and are going to go away and start preparations for the event in twelve month's when Mollie has another chance of making a junior international selection.
Mollie should be very proud of herself, we are a small town club and Mollie was competing against swimmers from some of the best distance programmes in the country. We will be working hard to give Mollie every opportunity to be competitive next season in these distance events."