Berkhamsted swimmers finish the County Championships campaign with a flourish

Berkhamsted Swimming Club impressed during the final rounds of the County Championships
Berkhamsted Swimming Club impressed during the final rounds of the County Championships

The final two days of what ultimately proved to be the most successful County Championships ever for Berkhamsted Swimming Club held lots of surprises and a huge number of terrific swims from the young swimmers.

After 10 sessions of competition, the 49-strong Berkhamsted contingent recorded figures of 160 PBs, 71 club records, 28 new regional qualification times, 13 gold medals, 14 silvers, 25 bronzes and 31 fourths from 277 swims.

The club hopes to have several swimmers in the top-eight for their age group which will mean they go forward to the Herts presentation evening at Welwyn Civic Centre.

For a full round-up of the weekend’s action, please visit

Saturday morning began with the Girls 50 Fly that saw pbs for Izzie Soulsby and Charlotte Watson, whilst Ellen Northwood (bronze) and Yazii Brand (fourth) both won their heats in PBs and club bests.

The girls then continued with the 200 Free when diminutive Tamsin Moren went PB as did Izzie Soulsby and Amy Stoker, while Charlotte Watson claimed her first club best of several over the two days as she returns to fitness.

Brand claimed her second of the day, as well as the 17 years silver, winning her heat again.

The session ended with the boys 100 IM and they started to come into their own with PBs set by Louis Armitage (fifth), James Corner, Ish Rahim, Zac Patel, James Chennells, Mason Brand and Tom Weston.

Brand romped home to finish first in his heat and win the 13 years gold in a club best; Rahim claiming the 12 years bronze.

Saturday afternoon began with nine PBs from the first 10 swims (Armitage, Corner, Rahim, Harry Thorne, Chennells, Ollie Hurst, Peter Lever, Mason Brand and Sam Newman).

Corner was delighted to claim the silver and his first ever regional time, emulated by Brand.

From the older boys, Tom Strakosch evidenced some super form for the weekend by opening his account with a heat win and PB, with Tom Lyons also taking his heat win.

Moren placed fourth yet again in a club best 43.99 for the girls 50 back and Roisin Clarke lopped off ¾ of a second.

Yazii Brand is storming back to fitness and form with bronze (club best), and Charlotte Watson took her first RQT and silver with 32.94.

The boys 100 Back threw up some surprise,s with Callum Bullock dropping 2 seconds and Jamie Hoyes just setting PB.

But James Chennells went RQT for sixth, and in the next heat Brand lowered his best by two seconds (club best) and claimed bronze.

Then Jordan Northwood set a small best and Strakosch also improved for the bronze and club best with 1.04.84.

Amelie Baker (PB), was first up of eight club swimmers in the girls 400 Free, followed by Izzie Soulsby leading home Izzy Sansom and Roisin Clarke in the same heat - all in PBs.

Watson won her heat comfortably in a season’s best and club best, heading Amy Stoker (PB) in the same heat, while Ellen Northwood got the final PB.

The third session on Saturday stretched long into the night as the organisers set about fitting in the events cancelled due to the pool closure in the first weekend, and began with the girls 50 Free.

Moren dropped inside 40 seconds for the first time with a club record for yet another fourth place for the youngster.

Ellen Northwood struck to win her heat in a PB time and Jenny Atwill shocked herself with another best at 17 years old.

Brand won her heat again in a club record for another fourth, and Watson dipped inside 30 seconds for the first time in a while with another club best.

In the boys 200 Breast Callum Bullock improved 13 seconds and Ollie Hurst picked up bronze despite feeling a lack of energy.

But, it was in the killer 400 IM that the club’s strength shone, with six girls and nine boys competing.

Izzy Painter set the tone, lopping off 24 seconds followed by Izzie Soulsby and Amy Stoker going head to head and both setting PBs.

Ellen Northwood picked up fourth and Watson slipped 1/10th inside her PB (club best), while Brand won bronze in an RQT and club best.

The boys then lit up the pool as Louis Armitage successfully defended his title, Rahim took fourth but improved 14 seconds for RQT, and James Chennells took his own PB, club best and regional time when powering away from his opposition to win his heat and the gold medal.

Then, despite his previous lethargy, Hurst improved six seconds for fourth place and the evening finished with Northwood winning bronze in his own RQT. The 15-strong Berko squad was more than any other club and shows how hard the swimmers work in very limited training time.

The final day began with possibly the loudest cheer from BSC supporters when Moren finally powered home to win both her heat and the gold medal for 9-year-olds as she rewrites the club 9-year-old record books.

Izzy Painter set her own PB, as did Soulsby and Jess Potts, Northwood (bronze) and Brand (Gold). Both Brand and Charlotte Watson set club records.

Armitage then dropped 27 seconds in the boys 400 Free with his remodelled technique.

Chennells improved 10 seconds for his RQT and club best before Hurst continued his super form with yet another five-second best (fourth).

Strakosch’s run of PBs continued with another club record and the bronze medal, while Northwood produced exactly the same results in the 15 years age group.

Moren completed her full set of medals with silver (PB and another club best) in the 50 Breast. Emma Walker set her own pb then Soulsby won her heat in another RQT (her second) for fifth overall.

Watson set her PB and Brand claimed another gold for her and the team. However, the star performance in the event was Abbie Hurst who has struggled with growing pains of late and was therefore delighted to claim both age group and Junior Championship bronze.

The session finished with the boys 50m back and more PBs for Callum Bullock, Corner, Armitage, Rahim (four seconds and heat winner), Chennells and Hurst.

Brand improved a second for an RQT, club best and silver medal, while Harry Ormerod was quickest of the boys, taking 17 years bronze as well.

The final session of the meet provided more highlights, with Rahim proving the dominant force in the 12 years fly, lowering his PB in the 100m fly by four seconds as took the win and another RQT.

Brand was also inside the RQT with bronze, while Tom Lyons narrowly missed his own RQT and Northwood went 1.03.84 for silver and club best with an RQT as well.

The club’s fly prowess was further on show in the girls 200 Fly where Ellen Northwood picked up silver and Yazii Brand won her gold and was fourth fastest overall in the county.

The boys 200 back provided a 26-second PB for Tom Holmes-Higgin for 9 years bronze, while Rahim won his heat again, on a high, going 11 seconds inside his best.

Zac Patel improved 13 seconds, winning his heat, and then Hurst set yet another PB by five seconds.

Brand went slightly quicker to improve his RQT and Tom Weston lowered his PB. But it was Strakosch setting the fireworks off, again, in the penultimate heat, improving his own club best and PB for silver.

The girls’ penultimate event was the 100 IM. Soulsby set a PB and Abbie Hurst won her heat to set a PB as well.

Ellen Northwood improved her time and Watson claimed a club record and fourth place.

In the Blue Riband event, the Mens 100 Free, four of the swimmers went sub-60 with, pride of place going to Strakosch who dropped into the 58s and Hurst who ended on a high with his first ever sub-one minute, clocking 59.27.

Brand (RQT) & Chennells both improved their bests, as did Weston.

The final event was the girls 100 Breast. Led off by Evie Watson who, the day before, had finished 11th in the regional climbing finals.

Soulsby improved yet again and Brand claimed yet another gold and club best, while Abbie Hurst finished the meet with another bronze, this time as fourth junior.

The others who swam on the weekend were Daniel Chennells, Chris Nel, Harriet Horwood-Jones, Harrison Bullock, George Thorne, Kieran Mallory in his first ever county race, Abbie Brown, Rachel Barber, Emily Kiernan and Jack Filer.