Berkhamsted continue to surpass their best times

Berkhamsted SC's young swimmers at the Terry Davies Alternative Nationals meet at Woodside at the weekend.
Berkhamsted SC's young swimmers at the Terry Davies Alternative Nationals meet at Woodside at the weekend.

It was another successful weekend for Berkhamsted Swimming Club with plenty of medals and personal best (PB) times during the Terry Davies Alternative Nationals meet and for the Strakosch family at the Marlow Open Water event.

A total of 15 swimmers, from nine-year-old novice Saya Khalili to 17-year-old Cam MacDonald, took on some of the region’s best at the Terry Davies Alternative Nationals Meet at Watford SC’s Woodside pool while father-and-son Mark (57) and Owen Strakosch (16) took on the Marlow festival on Sunday.

Owen had competed at Watford on Saturday, while his dad had officiated alongside Jo Sansom, Tara Bullock and Simon Lever over the weekend.

The busiest swimmers at Woodside with ten and nine races each were Alex Kalverboer and Callum Bullock.

Alex made one County Qualification (CQ) and seven consideration times, including PBs in the 100m breast (2nd), 100m back (gold), 50m free, 100m IM, 100m breast and 100m free. His qualification time came in the 200m back. He pocketed a silver before claiming victory in the 100m back and a bronze in the final event, the 50m breast.

Callum set PBs in his 50m back (7th) in 31.90, good enough for a county consideration time (CCT) for 2018. He also set a PB in his 100 IM and claimed a best placing of 4th in the 100m fly.

Eva Lawson has only been at the club since last autumn but allied to natural talent, has a real racing mentality. She began the meet with a heat win in the first event of the day on Saturday, creaming over nine seconds from her PB (3:09.02) for a first county qualifying time (CQT) of the season for herself and the club.

Her second race was possibly the best of her eight events over the two days, when she sliced nearly five seconds from her 50 fly best to record another heat win and 10-years gold (37.82), a time which ranks her first in the East region for a CQT and a new club record.

Eva also set club records in the 50m free and 200 free, in which she improved more than 11 seconds (2:44.37, CQT) for gold. On day two she overcame the disappointment of a disqualification in the 100 IM to claim further CQTs and PBs in the 100m free and 50m breast.

Lydia Wisely made two CCTs for the first time in the 50m fly and 50m back (PB) placing 4th and 3rd, as well as setting PBs in the 100m back, 200m free and 100m IM.

Dan Chennells is becoming a committed competitor and in eight races managed a 100 per cent PB hit rate. He accomplished CCTs in the 100m free, 100m IM, 200m free, 50m back and 200m IM, with his 100m free heat win bringing the biggest cheer of the meet. From a previous best of 1:00.37 he led the whole way, seeming to accelerate even more in the last 25m to finish about 15m ahead of everybody else, dropping straight to 57.48 for his first beating of the iconic 60-second barrier for the event.

He knew this was a possibility after a flying 200m free race the previous day when he romped to 2nd in his heat with a five-second improvement and a gold for 15-year-olds in 2:08.05.

Nine-year-old Saya Khalili was competing in her first Open meet and after a one-handed touch in the 100m breast saw her unfortunately disqualified in her first race, she showed character to come back and take 4th in a PB 53.48 in the 50m back, and then put the error right in the 50m breast on day two for 5th and 7th in the 50 free.

Victoria Ayles may be 15-years-old but is still a relative novice in Open meets and, as a late entry, had just one swim in the 200m free. She showed her fantastic progress by lowering her three-month -old PB by 13 seconds to claim her a CCT (2:26.90) for 4th and a clear heat win.

Tilly Anderton was another to get in on the CCT act in her 100m IM (1:40.10) and also set a PB in the 100m free for 8th in 1:28.41.

Harrison Bullock was slightly off his best following GCSEs and a period of open water swimming but managed a PB in the 50m fly (32.21) from his six races.

Cam MacDonald’s efforts in training on technique and turns paid off in the 200m back where he secured 3rd place in a PB 2:34.11 and a PB in the 100m IM (1:13.11).

Tamsin Moren is getting back on track after a knee operation earlier this season and took a CQT in the 200m breast (3:00.71) when she was third in a tightly-contested heat. Her 50 breast (PB 39.21, 1st) was her first sub-40 second individual 50m swim and a CCT, along with another CCT in the 100m breast. She dropped her 50m free time after a long wait, winning her heat with a particularly good second half (31.51) for 5th and smashed her previous best in the 200m IM, showing a return of confidence in her strength to clock 2:44.24 for a heat win and a bronze, down from 2:53.99.

Emma Hockney was another to set 100 per cent PBs, placing 2nd in the 50m free with 33.13 on Sunday having convincingly won her heat, but her best result time-wise was in the 200m free where she chopped an incredible 37 seconds from her PB, working hard technically for another heat win. Her other PBs came in the 50m back, 100m IM (heat win), 100m free (heat win, 10-second lowering of PB) and 50m breast.

Izzy Sansom, like MacDonald, at 15 years of age, showed she still has room for improvement by lowering her 200m free PB to 2:31.56 and being close to her best in her other five races.

George Thorne hit a 100 per cent PB rate in his three races – the 200m free, 50m back and, possibly his best swim, in the 100m fly, where he claimed a bronze. The first two swims were CCTs.

Brother Harry showed good strength after another period out of the water and claiming a best position of 5th in the 200m free.

Finally, Owen Strakosch set himself up for the following day’s 1.5km open water swim with PBs in the 100m fly, 50m back, 200m IM, 50m fly and his best of 3rd place in the 200m free, where he got his time down to 2:15.16.

At the Marlow Classic River Swims on the Sunday, Owen was competing in his first ever open water swim.

After the frantic mass start, Owen found himself at the head of affairs in the 1.5km race. There was some confusion about where the race ended, with Owen having been told it was as you came out of the water, which he did first, but with a 100m run to where the reception committee were waiting. Another athlete overtook Owen as he meandered to this point but they were awarded equal first at the end of the day and Owen was delighted with his time of 21:09.

Father Mark was taking part in the 3km swim and managed to finish fourth in the men’s and first in his age group with a fantastic 43:57.

Both have their next race tomorrow (Thursday) at Denham Lake as the open water season continues.