Hundreds of swimmers from Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted were in action in a busy week of action across the borough.
> Hemel Hempstead SC
Following on from a strong Round 1 performance in the National Arena League, Hemel Hempstead Swimming Club were drawn in Round 2 in Basildon with teams from Epping Forest, Potters Bar, Basildon, Anaconda, Sudbury, Hitchin and Saxon Crown.
Despite many of the squad having been back for less than a week from an intensive training camp in Tunisia over the half term week, there were some superb performances.
In the 50-race gala, the squad of 34 swimmers managed 26 top-three finishes on the night – including 11 first places – and also broke a number of club records.
Individual wins were recorded by Charlie Rayner in the boys’ 12/13 years 100m breaststroke and 100m butterfly, as well as by Max Jelfs in the 100m backstroke.
Max was also touched out in the 100m freestyle to take second, before Charlie and Max were joined by Ashley Coombs and Sam Gaines in the medley and freestyle relays – dominating both to take first place.
In the ladies’ open age group, Hemel Hempstead were again in exceptional form, with Aimee Abrey taking first in the 100m backstroke, Grace Rayner in the 100m breaststroke, Lois Moore the 100m butterfly and Emily Jelfs in the 100m freestyle.
Emily and Aimee’s swims were both open club records, while Paige Wilding also took third place in the ladies’ open 200m IM.
The girls, with the addition of Molly McLoughlin, then combined to take a comfortable first place in both the medley and freestyle relays.
The men’s open age group were also on form with Jack Spence, Freddie Woodcock and Tom Sherriff taking second in the 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle, respectively.
Tom also took third in the 100m breaststroke, and the boys combined with Josh Gaines, Justin Langford and Jack Christie to take second in both the medley and freestyle relays.
There were further individual second places on the night achieved by Seyi Bankole in the boys’ U12 50m breaststroke, as well as by Eleanor Bevan in the U15 100m breaststroke.
Eleanor’s swim was particularly notable as she was swimming up an age group, while third places were also achieved by Clare Stancombe and Luke Pestaille in the U12 girls’ and boys’ 50m backstroke.
In the U13 girls’ age group, Leanne Abrey came third in the 100m breaststroke and then combined with Eleanor Bevan, Megan Prince and Alice Fender to take third in both the medley and freestyle relays.
Other squad members contributing valuable points to a strong team result were Lauren Windsor, Helen Jennings,Rebecca Sewell, Shaminah Sherwani Keeling, Harrison Newbury Kemp, Fred Davis, Fynn Archibald, Kyle Holmes, Millie Anderton, Jessica Walters, Lois Goad, and Reuben Balch.
With Hemel winning the shout-off poolside while the results were checked, the club finished the evening in third place – only four points behind second placed Saxon Crown of Lewisham and deserved winners Basildon.
> Berkhamsted SC
Saturday saw an exciting second round of Arena League action at the Inspire Luton pool, with Berkhamsted SC contributing hugely to the event.
For the first 10 races the club sat in a lofty second position behind previously all-conquering Hillingdon, before an injury to a swimmer and four unfortunate disqualifications saw the team slip to fourth place on the night.
Jordan Northwood led off with yet another PB in the 200m IM – a swim which led to his award of the club’s male swimmer of the night.
The female swimmer of the night went to Eli MacDonald who set PBs in her 100m butterfly and 100m breaststroke, before finishing with the anchor 50m freestyle leg for the open relay.
James Chennells won the 100m butterfly before improving his 100m freestyle and 50m freestyle when leading off the U14 freestyle relay.
The club won two other races on the night, with Mason Brand showing his class to romp home first in the U14 100m backstroke and Louis Armitage taking the U12 50m breaststroke.
There were 12 individual club records set on the night from Izzie Soulsby, Jess Potts, MacDonald, Chris Nel, Northwood, Harry Ormerod and Tommy Sheldrick.
In addition, the boys’ relay squads set three new records. The U16s lowered their own age group and open medley relay best before the open squad obliterated the old time by nearly four seconds.
The final relay best was set by the men in the open 300m freestyle relay – the final event of the night.
Other PBs went to Amelie Baker and Hazza Horwood-Jones, while the rest of the buoyant squad was made up of Eli Matthews, Izzie Painter, Marley Maidment, James Corner, George Thorne, Amy Chennells, Abbie Brown, Charlie Stevens and Jenny Atwill.
Elsewhere, Peter Lever travelled to the Barnet Middle Distance meet and swam both the 400m IM and the 400m freestyle where he managed a massive 25-second PB.