The final round of the Herts Peanuts League recently saw Berkhamsted SC compete at the Furzefield, Potters Bar pool, in the promotion gala from Division Two.
Seeded fifth going into the final round, it was always going to be a tough assignment to challenge the top teams and Berkhamsted held their seeding to finish in fifth on the night.
Nell Coster started the meet with a second-place finish in the 10-years freestyle after a long underwater phase and Ben Hanbidge was pleased with a technically good first league swim in the boys’ freestyle in 20.88.
First win of the night went to Issy Whitaker with a personal best (PB) of 38.69 in the 11-years backstroke, while William Barnes was fifth.
Chrissie Soulsby and Cole Moore both improved their 50m breaststroke times in the 12-years events to 45.06 and 50.75 respectively, followed by Ava Bartlett romping home first in the nine-years girls’ freestyle in a PB of 18.50.
Further PBs went to Alana Van Deventer and Austin Clements in the 10-years fly in 22.38 and 22.37 for a brace of fourth places.
Phoebe Goss claimed third in the 11-years 50m freestyle, as did Riley Milne for the boys (38.19) to drop more than three seconds.
The 12-year-old backstroke swimmers, Mia Maslen-Wollington and Eric Batt, improved to 38.40 and 38.00 respectively.
Ava Bartlett teamed with Bea Miller, Katie Hockney and Bella Cliffe to post 1:20.88 and Jack Eastaff paired up with Barnes, Ed Eastaff and Ale Partridge to clock 1:20.66 for the nine-year-old freestyle relays, with Jack setting a new backstroke PB of 24.08.
The 10-years medley squads were Heidi Batchelor-Hannaby Olivia Bridgeman, Coster and Van Deventer for the girls and Noah Przygrodzki, Conall O’Brien, Clements and Hanbidge for the boys, who picked up a fourth-place result.
Goss led-off the 11-years girls’ freestyle relay team in her own PB (16.51) to Charlotte Whittle, Whitaker and Emily Jones, picking up second place in 1:07.52, with Ed Eastaff doing the same for the boys (18.44) to Barnes, Rocco Addati and Joe Harrison for fourth in 1:08.69.
The final relays of the first-half were the 12-years medleys which produced a brace of fifth-place results for Maslen-Wollington, Soulsby, Kate Hopper and Emma Hockney. Batt, Moore, Ezi Svichla-Fekete and Milne swam up an age group.
Bea Miller started the second set of individuals in the nine-years backstroke, just off her best, before Jack Eastaff dropped his 25m backstroke PB to 25.31 for third.
Joe Harrison improved his fly by three-quarters of a second after Jones had taken second place for the girls. Svichla-Fekete was third in his 50m freestyle, following Hockney’s strong second for the girls.
Batchelor-Hannaby and Przygrodzki (PB 24.87) were both fifth in their 10-years backstroke events, as was Whittle in her first gala for a couple of years. She sliced four seconds from her 50m breaststroke PB to post 55.75 and Addati claimed third in his breaststroke event.
Hopper showed huge improvement in her 50m fly, dropping more than seven seconds to clock 44.31 as the individual races came to an end.
In the second set of relays, Bridgeman lowered her freestyle PB by nearly three seconds, leading off the 10-years freestyle squad and Clements improved his to 16.71 leading off for the boys.
Whittle, Goss, Whitaker and Jones teamed up for third in the 11-years medley, before the 12-years girls picked up the club’s last individual win of the night in the freestyle relay, Soulsby led off to Hopper, Maslen-Wollington and Hockney in 1:01.87.
The final and noisiest race of the night was the squadron relay, with Bartlett, Jack Barratt, Coster, Clements, Goss, Harrison, Hockney and Svichla-Fekete looking superb to bring home a win in 2:16.56.
Bantham Swoosh river swim
The breadth of Berkhamsted SC’s activities saw a number of members returning to the Bantham Swoosh river swim in Devon with a group from Watford SC who train with them locally.
The group of nine Masters and junior swimmers from Berkhamsted and Watford took part in the Bantham Swoosh, an exciting world class six-kilometre swim in clear water and a shallow sandy-bottomed estuary.
The event attracted a total of 747 swimmers.
They set off at 7am, inspired by coach Jeremy Irvine and Masters swimmer Matt Culverwell – both experts in their field.
Supporters made their way to Bantham Beach where the swim was to finish.
Volunteers from the Outdoor Swim Society seemed well-organised but were slightly taken aback at the speed of the first pod of swimmers, who were initially led by Culverwell. During the swim the youngsters resorted to draft off Matt and then when they felt more comfortable or discovered the finish line, in true competitive form, they raced off.
First out of the water and second overall was Irvine in a time of 1:04.15 (one hour, four minutes, 15 seconds) and he was promptly followed by James Pope in 1:04.17.
Conor O’Brien had a great swim and was fifth out of the water in 1:04.52. Harrison Bullock swam out of his socks to beat Culverwell, who was the first skin [not-wet suited] swimmer back in 105.20.
Harrison’s time of 1:05.02 ensured he was the seventh swimmer and fifth male overall.
The next from the small team to climb out at the beach was Callum Bullock in 1:08.20, making him the 10th male and 13th swimmer overall.
Twin Pedro Irvine arrived in a time of 1:09.13 and was promptly followed by the only girl of the group, Isabel Sansom with a PB time of 1:13.18, nine minutes faster than last year. She was the first under-18s female to finish and eighth woman overall.
Jeremy Irvine swam up the beach in a time of 1:14.55, making him the eighth skin swimmer back to Bantham. Masters swimmer Berkhamsted SC coaching member Rob Diehl followed up his success at the Henley River Swim with a time of 1:18.16 in his first Swoosh.