A golden day for five-star Charlie at the Regional Championships

Charlie Rayner won five gold medals at the ASA East Region Summer Championships
Charlie Rayner won five gold medals at the ASA East Region Summer Championships

An extraordinary performance by Charlie Rayner saw him take five gold medals at the ASA East Region Summer Championships.

Charlie stormed to glory in the 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke, the 100 fly and the 200 IM. There were also two bronze medals for the 17 and over 4x100 relay teams.

Although the qualifying window has yet to close, it seems highly likely that Charlie will qualify for the British Championships in all five events in which he won gold.

It is also possible that both relay teams will qualify for the English National Championships which would be remarkable achievement.

Overall Hemel enjoyed an excellent competition, particularly with ten of the 23 qualifiers swimming at this level for the first time.

The club achieved 13 finalists, 27 top ten finishes, 59 personal best times and 53 new long course records from 76 swims.

The championships were held over the two May bank holiday weekends and brought together the very best swimmers from Bedfordshire, Cambridge, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

The first weekend’s competition was in Luton, and the second in Norwich at the same time as Radio 1’s Big Weekend which took place just across the road in full view of the pool.

Charlie had a truly outstanding meet. He dominated the competition in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events in which he set new club open records, but faced stronger challenges in the 100 fly and 200 IM which he eventually won by less than a second.

But he saved his best race for the last event of the weekend, the 50 breast, which he won by almost the smallest margin possible of two hundredths of a second in a fitting finale to the competition.

In addition to his five gold,s Charlie also reached the finals of the 50 free and 50 fly, he improved his already national-level 200 breaststroke time by nearly 5 seconds and he broke his own age group records in the 200 IM and the 50 free.

The girls’ 17 and over medley relay squad of Aimee Abrey, Grace Rayner, Lois Moore and Emily Jelfs won bronze and were only a second from taking second place.

Not to be outdone, the boys’ freestyle relay team of Tom Sherriff, Freddie Woodcock, Jack Christie and Matt Sherriff just beat off a strong challenge from the fourth placed team to take third place by a tenth of a second.

Max Jelfs managed an impressive 5 top ten finishes. He set new age group records in the 50, 100 and 200 back; the latter with a significant PB of more than seven seconds to finish sixth.

He also finished sixth in both the 400 and the 1500 free where he broke his own age group record set last month - by one hundredth of a second.

Grace Rayner made the finals of the 100 and 200 breast where she finished sixth and seventh respectively. She set PBs in all five of her swims and new open long course records in all three breaststroke distances. Head Coach Justin Langford also made the final of the 50 fly, setting a new open record in the process.

Jonny Farrow entered his first regional championship seeded 19th in both the 100 and 200 back, but thanks to improvements of over three and six seconds respectively, finished 10th and eighth - setting new age group records in both events and qualifying for the final of the 200 back by just a tenth of a second in a dramatic heat which he won in the last few strokes.

Georgia Purkis, also competing in her first regional championships, set a new club open record in taking eighth place in the 13-year-olds’ 800 free by less than a second in a close fought race and went on to set another open club record in the 400 free.

There were also new open records for Tom Sherriff who set an impressive 5 new records in the 50, 200 and 400 free, the 100 fly and the 200 IM; Aimee Abrey in the 100 and 200 back; Lois Moore in the 50 free; Lauren Windsor in the 50 fly; Jack Christie in the 50 breast and Freddie Woodcock in the 100 back.

Tom Frewin set new open records in the 100 and 200 breast during the first weekend of the competition, only to have them snatched from him by Charlie Rayner in the second weekend.

Both Alice Fender, who came ninth in her age group, and Eleanor Bevan broke the old 800 free open record and there were age group records for Izzy Anderton, who entered the competition seeded 34th in the 50 back and finished 14th, Lauren Windsor in the 100 fly and Freddie Woodcock in the 50 fly as well as some fine swims from Leanne Abrey, Josh Gaines, Kyle Holmes, Shona McKenna and Paige Wilding.