James Chennells was the star of the show for Berkhamsted among a host of excellent performances across the 42-strong squad at theHemel Hempstead SC Birthday Open Meet.
Competing in 10 events across four sessions he set pbs in every swim starting with a five second best time in the 200 Free where he covered the first half in less than a minute for the first time.
His final 2:01.85 (club record) was the first of a batch of Regional times for the 15 year old and gold medals and club bests galore. James followed this up with wins in the 50 Back (30.35), 200 IM, 100 Fly, 50 Fly, 100 IM and 100 Back. His piece de resistance came in the final male race of the night where he touched first in the 100 Free.
Euan Donald with seven pbs from nine swims was not far behind in the improvement stakeswinning the 13 years 200 Free, 200 IM, 100 Fly all in pbs and the 200 Fly with silvers in each of the 50 Fly, 100 IM & 100 Breast in pbs as well before he too finished his weekend in style posting 1:02.258 for a nearly 3 second lowering of his best, right at the end of the weekend showing just how strong he has become.
There was also delight for Harry Thorne who, at 15 years of age clocked his first ever Regional Qualifying time in the 200 Breast. After another race long struggle he drove hard off the final turn and launched himself home in 2:41.11, chopping a massive 7 seconds from his previous best as, like Chennells, he finally discovers some belief in his ability. In the same race he improved both his 50m and 100m best times en-route to the final touch, also going pb in his 200 Free, 100 Breast, 200 IM, 50 Free, 100 Fly & 50 fly.
They were just some of the highlights from a terrific 2 days of swimming. In the 200 IM Tamsin Moren took silver in 3:07.44 clipping her best by 16.02 seconds whilst in the 200 Free there were best times from Alex Kalverboer, Marcus Donald, Ben Filer (over 19 seconds), James Corner, Tom Stoker (28.05 seconds!), Owen Strakosch & Eric Batt with 55 year old Mark Strakosch getting close to all all time pb with 2:24.45.
In the Girls 50 Free Lauren Rogers improved almost 5 seconds from her 2 week old swim and there was Gold for Amy Pemberton in a swim which won her a place in the evening’s skins events with 28.33 despite being under the weather with a virus. In the Boys 50 Back there were more bests for Kalverboer (gold) and Owen Strakosch whilst James Corner showed strongly to win his 12 year old event in 34.85.
Lara Coster swam a plucky 100 Fly for 4th (7 second drop) with 1:50.30 before Ellen Northwood began her domination of the female fly with a 1:13.62 win.
Despite mis-counting in the boys 200 Breast, Batt still had enough in the tank to set another pb with Kalverboer repeating that trick and winning the 10 years breast . George Thorne dropped over five seconds and Harry Thorne began his breaststroke efforts by chipping off 2.48 seconds in 1:18.02 (2 nd) but the star 100m Breast came from returnee, Louis Armitage, who stunned everybody with 1:20.10 for a clear win, holding off club mate Euan Donald in a close fought heat.
Coster continued her good run by lowering her pb in the 100 Back losing almost 16 seconds from her previous time and there were pbs for Lydia Wisely, Moren & Abi Hewson (both 2nd) as well.
Euan Donald and Harrison Bullock took Gold and silver respectively in their 200 Fly age groups and then in the first of the Saturday evening events Ish Rahim cleaned up the 14 years 200 IM .exactly equalling his pb, the first of 3 golds as he also took the 50 Free (pb) & 100 Fly.
Moren won the 11 years 200 Free coming down by 6.45 seconds with a final 25m kick to the finish. And Pemberton took 15 years silver.
In the Boys 50 Free Corner set a club best winning in 27.96with Armitage 2nd in the same 12 years age with his own pb of 29.40, sub 30 for the first time. George Thorne (1st 13 years) Callum Bullock (another 1st timer sub 30), Owen Strakosch & Harrison Bullock all set best times and Cam MacDonald would have been another sub 30 (29.98) but for a starting infringement, showing how quick he has become.
Evie Light and Emma Hockney took 1st & 3rd in the Girls’ 50 Back 9 years, both in best times and Pemberton picked up another gold, Hewson taking her age silver.
Dan Chennells improved his 100 Fly before James Chennells, mason Brand & Harry Thorne took 1,2,3 in the 15 years 100 fly as well, Sam Newman taking the Open win.
Light then showed she has endurance as well as speed when she won the 100 Breast with a 19 second pb from 2 weeks ago.
It was then down to the big event of the first day, the 50m Free skins. James Chennells and Pemberton having qualified for the 5 round knock out. Unfortunately for Chennells, tiredness caught up and he was just unable to repeat his time from the qualifying and went out in the first round with a 26.66 but Pemberton fought all the way to the final 2, gradually improving from the first to the 4th round. In the final itself she actually went even quicker than her heat posting 28.32 but just did not quite have enough to win, settling for 2nd prize but in an exciting finale to the day showed her new resolution about her ability.
Day 2 began with the Boys 200 Breast and Kalverboer was at it again taking silver in another pb. Tom Holmes-Higgin and David Graham both sliced off more than 10 seconds from their times with Tom claiming 2nd 11 years with 3:36.78, Callum Bullock also taking 2nd 14 years before harry Thornes stunning 15 years victory. Adam Hawkswood sliced off nearly 14 seconds as well going 3:08.20.
Moren began day 2 with much of the same from day 1 cruising to silver in the 200 Back in 3:04.15 and dropping another 7 seconds with Issy Soulsby also claiming a 13 years silver.
In the 50 Fly it was bronze for Kalverboer & silver for Holmes-Higgin before Corner stepped up again to smash his best and win gold in 31.93, taking off over 3 seconds, a huge amount in a 50m race. George Thorne clocked a further pb with 35.02 (2nd) and Dan Chennells joined the pb party touching home in 37.47. Zac Patel set a new club best to take his gold in 28.45 abd Harrison Bullock also improved.With james Chennells and Harry Thorne both going pb for 1st & 2nd, Cam MacDonald, not to be outdone stepped in with 4th in another pb of 34.17 with Hawkswood also setting a pb.
Christina Soulsby led a clutch of girls improvements by going over 8 seconds faster in the 50 Breast for Bronze with Jemima Cadge, Light, Lydia Wisely, Moren (1st), Caitlin Kelley and Northeood also improving their bests.
In the Boys 100 IM Holmes-Higgin pocketed the silver with both David Graham and a delighted Marcus Donald both taking off over 4 seconds from their pbs. Then it was another club 1, 2 in the 12 year olds with Armitage shading Corner by just 0.27 seconds for the victory as they both improved yet again. Dan Chennells series of improved times continued with his 1:21.12 pb by nearly 5 seconds. Patel took gold in the 14 years ahead of the Bullock brothers who both went pb and then Cam MacDonald followed up with bronze15 years, again taking time from his best in 1:17.06 and Hawkswood took 16 years gold.
Cadge & Light took 3rd and 4th in the Girls’ 100 Free, Wisely and Christina Soulsby both setting pbs as did Grace Payne for silver in the 11 year olds. Hewson took another silver for the 12 years girls and then Issy Soulsby carved off a third of a second to take 13 years gold in 1:06.20 and Kelley went pb.
At the end of session 3, Kalverboer picked up the 100 Back silver as did Holmes-Higgin (pb) & George Thorne (pb) & Callum Bullock & Hawkswood (pb) with MacDonald improving for bronze in 1:13.53.
Holmes-Higgin grabbed third in the 200 Back pb) alongside Callum Bullock (pb) & MacDonald making it a full set of personal swims faster than pb in 2:40.56.
The Girls’ 50 fly provided yet more medals for Wisely & Payne (both 3rd in pbs), gold for Hewson (pb) and Northwood. Kelley and Abigail Briers, in her first Open, both sliced time from their previous pbs.
Ben Filer improved a second and a half in his 50 Breast whislt Armitage destroyed the field again in his own 50 Breast pb of 35.81, Callum Bullock also improving. Wisely chipped away at her pbs in the 100 IM by nearly 3 seconds and there was also another best for Moren (2nd).
Kalverboer claimed his final medal of the meet with yet another pb (1:28.83) in the 100 Free, the first of 9 out 10 boys to still set pbs in their final event of an exhausting 2 days, evidence of the strength of the programme they are being set at club. Holmes-Higgin, Marcus Donald, Corner (1:02.22) Euan Donald (1:02.28) Dan Chennells (over 6 seconds), Harrison Bullock, James Chennells and Brand all claining pbs in the evnt.
It was then down to the final event, the killer, 200 Fly and the club claimed 2 gold medals from Ellen Northwood and 200 Fly debutant, Izzy Sansom who came home to wide applause at the end of 8th event of the weekend.
An excellently organised meet providing a wide range of swimmers with fast swimming opportunites locally to home.