Children from a South Woodford primary school made a big splash as they became the first state school to win a prestigious swimming gala.
The team of 11 children from Churchfields Junior School in Churchfields took top honours at the Redbridge Mini Games Swimming Gala, winning two gold medals and four silver.
Hundreds of children from seventeen schools competed in yesterday’s event at Fullwell Cross swimming pool in Barkingside.
The gala was the seventh to be organised as part of the Mini Games, one of the largest sporting events for primary school children in London.
Wendy Thomas, the school’s head teacher could not hide her pride at the achievement.
She said: “We are the first ever state school to win this prize. Normally it’s the private schools that do well, so this is extra special.”
Last year The Amateur Swimming Association published data showing that two thirds of children in Redbridge left primary school without being able to swim 25 metres – the Department of Education’s target figure.
Fullwell Cross is the borough’s only pool and The Redbridge Swimmers campaign group has blamed a lack of facilities for the failure.
Mrs Thomas said: “The majority of our children do meet the target.
“I think yesterday’s success is a tribute to the amount of effort we put into swimming at the school.
“I see it as a basic life skill and all of our year five and six pupils go swimming once a week.
“I would like the younger children to go too, but unfortunately there just isn’t the opportunity.”
The top competitors will go on to represent the borough at the London mini games.
Churchfields teacher Emma-Jane Bradley was with the children at the gala.
She said: “It was awesome and I’m sure a good number of the children will now be going on to the London Games.
“We are so, so proud of them all.”