The annual March Marlins Richard Shaw Memorial Gala took place at Whittlesey Manor Leisure Centre.
Poignantly, this year Richard would have turned 21, which made the celebratory gala even more special. Great efforts were made to fundraise for both SADS (Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome) and the Evelina Hospice at the gala with proceeds from the raffle and cake stall going to both causes. Swimmers and their families also had the opportunity to hold various birds of prey outside the venue to raise funds. Coach Terri Shaw, Richard’s mum, was very grateful for all those who contributed to the event.
The March Marlins team produced some incredible performances, resulting in 32 personal best times out of 40 individual races. First place positions went to Hannah Jordan for the 50m butterfly, Jessica Rayner for the 50m breaststroke, Weronika Mikolajewska, Hayden Courten and Ciara Mason for each of their 50m freestyle races, Chloe Cook for the 50m breaststroke, Elliotte Ledger, Henry Gooch and Thea Hanley for their individual 50m backstroke events. Richard’s brother, Graham Shaw, sped to his first position for the 50m butterfly. Mikolajewska achieved another first for 50m backstroke followed by Freddie Yates, also coming first in backstroke. Kiera Simpson also gained a first place in her backstroke event followed by Thomas Hanley in his 50m butterfly race and Katie McGowen in the Open 50m Freestyle. Also included were some of Marlins younger swimmers competing in the 9 year category, Jeremy Courten, Weronika Mikolajewska, Jude Staton, Connor Rickard and Abigail Watsham.
The final event is attributed to Richard’s favourite swim stroke, the butterfly. It was an exciting finale with clearly heartfelt performances by all the swimmers.
The atmosphere was electric for spectators, reflecting the passion, excitement and commitment from the club as a whole. Furthermore, it was clear that Richard and his family were very much at the centre of everyone’s thoughts during the competition as blue balloons marked 21 and Richard’s photograph were displayed poolside. In addition, each competitor received a stunning commemorative medal as a legacy.
Final results: Ely 172 points, March 164, Huntingdon 154, COPS 134, St Neots 127, Mildenhall 117.