Bognor Swimming Club travelled to King Alfred Leisure Centre, Hove, for the final round of the Sussex League.
Every child and young adult swam gallantly, but they ended up in third place.
They now wait anxiously for the final rounds to be completed to see if they will be allowed to swim in next year’s event or have to sit out for a year.
They were the only team unable to complete every race. Of the 55 events, 17 were either uncontested or only one swimmer was able to swim, rather than two.
Add to this that in the boys’ team, nine-year-olds had to compete against 15-year-olds, and the squad did well to keep the margin between second and third down to a healthy amount for much of the gala.
Jacob West, swimming in the open class, in which anyone 16 or over can enter, single-handedly competed against a strong field of young adults and men. He narrowly missed out on first place in his first race, the 100m medley.
Each swimmer completes one length - 25 metres - of butterfly, freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. West was spurred on by the narrow defeat and went on to win his second race, the 100m butterfly.
In the 100m freestyle, he again came first, with less than a second between him and the second-placed swimmer from Lewes Swimming Club. Second place in the 100m backstroke completed a successful night for the young swimmer.
Abbie Turner, 13, fresh from respectable times and placings in the recent regional finals, had a superb gala, winning all but one of the individual events she entered. She also helped two of the relay teams to come first.
She won a race so comfortably that she was able to smile at the spectators as she finished the race.
In another incredible race, the 100m butterfly for under-16 swimmers, Turner beat her sister Anna. Anna, though, swam with determination, taking second place by a hair’s length, beating a Worthing swimmer by just over a tenth of a second. Anna also won the 100m breaststroke and 100m freestyle, along with two third places.
Anna was also a key member of the successful relay teams, when she, Emily Guiry, Mia Cunningham-Stockdale and Jess Moon beat Worthing by half a second.
Georgia and Olivia Spink, Daisy Donoghue and Alys Turner also finished second in the under-12 medley relay as well as the freestyle relay.
Archie Strowger, nine, achieved two second-place finishes and a third place, all in the under-12 age bracket. The same set of results was achieved by Jaz Day in the open category.
There were also third-place finishes for Guiry in two events, Donoghue and Samuel Hawkins.
While disappointed to have finished third, the children and young adults did not let their heads drop and ended the night with a rousing chant.
Coach Sue Eason said: “I’m extremely proud of the children’s efforts. They all swam well, but in the end just couldn’t compete with the larger teams.”