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June 21st 2023

Our burgeoning swim squad prompts Mrs Bijnens to dive into Swim England officiating

Swimming is not only a fantastic sport for physical fitness, but also a thrilling activity that brings together individuals of all ages and abilities. My daughters, both Blackheath High School students, now swim competitively - my eldest starting in September 2021, and my youngest daughter starting in January just this year. I became interested in the world of swimming because of them and have since enjoyed attending lots of swimming events. We’re lucky at Blackheath High School to have a plethora of great local pools to train and compete in – and we also have some fabulously fast swimmers.

It was a revelation to realise I could support our swimmers by volunteering as an Official.  

Officials play a vital role in ensuring fair competition and maintaining the integrity of the sport. We are responsible for upholding the rules and regulations of swimming during events and competitions. During the last year, I have gone through training for J1 and J2, working alongside experienced officials. As a J2 official, I now have the opportunity to officiate at higher-level competitions, including county-level events and beyond.  

Through the Autumn and Spring terms of this year, we have attended weekly swimming galas at a number of different schools. Our students, even the ones who don’t swim competitively, have really enjoyed racing students from different schools. Blackheath High School also participated in the GDST swimming gala at Guilford Spectrum in January 2023. We achieved fourth place overall across the 24 GDST schools that participated; and Ella in Year 9 took home a silver medal.  

A few weeks ago, I officiated at my first international gala, the Adam Peaty Race London International 2023 which took place at the London Aquatics Centre. I met many professional swimmers, many of whom are Gold Medallists (such as Chad le Clos, Adam Peaty, Anna Hopkin, Lara Van Niekerk) and we had some of our best swimmers from Blackheath High School enter the race.   

Over the last year or so, I have been astonished by our talented Blackheath High School swimmers who are racing in some very prestigious swimming events across London and Kent. Sisters Ella (Year 9) and Natasha (Year 11) have both qualified to swim at Nationals in Sheffield this summer! It is also great to see such strong swim squad participation across all Year groups. Here are a few (but no means all) of our leading lights:  

Year 7 - Florence, Lana, Daisy

Year 8 - Hannah

Year 9 - Ella, Polly, Katherine, Andrea, Marley, Lilly-Rose, Lydia 

Year 10 - Tilly, Isabella, Giulia 

Year 11 - Natasha, Millie, Helena 

Year 12Abigail 

Year 13 - Maisie 

Every time I officiate in their races, I feel immensely proud to be their Science teacher; to see the passion they have for their sport, the dedication and sheer determination displayed in training, is truly inspiring!  

See our recent gallery snapshots with swimming icons:  

  • Me (Mrs Bijnens!) with Anna Hopkin MBE (Gold Medal winner and part of the British team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics)  

  • Olympian Adam Peaty OBE with our very own Hannah from Year 8 and Katie, Year 9 

  • Swimming’s autographed Ones to Watch profiles! 

Written by Mrs Bijnens, Biology and Teacher in charge of Charity & Philanthropy 

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