International Youth Games 2019
The International Youth Games is a sporting and cultural exchange usually between 3 other cities that are twinned with Lancaster. They are Rendsburg in Germany, Almere in Holland and Aalborg in Denmark. Each year one city hosts the games and this year it was in Aalborg. Aalborg is twinned with 18 other cities which were all invited so it was the biggest games out of all the other years. Some of the other countries competing were France, Norway, China, Poland and Iceland.
Lancaster competed in many different sports including Athletics, Badminton, Tennis, Golf, Karate and Triathlon as well as swimming. Kate, Travis, Will and I represented Carnforth Otters as the swim team and we were also joined by Amy, Katie, Anan and Isaac from Lancaster City Swimming & Water Polo Club. We were accompanied by two coaches called Chloe and Sam, who were brilliant.
Also from the Triathlon team there was Amelie, Naimh, Daniel and Archie who are all Carnforth Otters swimmers too.
We all set off from Lancaster for our 28 hour coach journey across Europe. Normally contestants stay with host families that have young athletes also competing in the games, but this year because there were so many countries we stayed in various schools and halls with our teams.
On the first day everyone competing in the games took part in the Opening Ceremony where we marched with our country’s flag in a procession to a place where we heard a speech and watched an amazing diving show. I really enjoyed this event because I made new friends with people doing different sports and got to see all the different teams competing.
After that I had one day training and two days competing which was really fun because we got to meet people from different countries with the same interest and compete in a really nice pool. Our team did very well as we all did 8 events each and came back with 15 medals overall. Travis won a bronze in 100m back, a bronze in 100m breast, and a silver in 200m breast.
Will won a bronze in 100m IM. I won a bronze in 200m IM and a bronze in 200m free. Amy won a bronze in 100m fly. Anan won a bronze in 100m free, a bronze in 100 IM and a gold in 100m back. Isaac won a bronze in 200m breast, a bronze in 100m free, a bronze in 100m IM, a silver in 50 free and a gold in 100m breast.
On one of the competition days we were visited by the Mayor of Lancaster who flew over to Denmark to support us. In the afternoons of each day we did activities as a swim team like playing mini golf or went into the town for lunch, and in the evenings we played games with our coaches which was great fun.
Also on one of the evenings we had an award ceremony for the swimmers, and on the Friday we had a huge disco with everyone competing which was really fun because the DJ was great.
On the last day we had a fun day at a huge open water pool in a park with diving boards and lots of activities like stand up paddle boarding and beach volleyball. This was my favourite day because there were over a thousand competitors there all together having fun
We finished the last day with a closing ceremony where we heard a speech from the Mayor of Aalborg and then everybody from all different countries swapped hoodies and t-shirts with each other before each making their the long journey home.
It was a fantastic experience that I’m sure we will all never forget.Hannah McMillan
Carnforth Otters swimmer and International Youth Games 2019 competitor