Two more busy days at Woodside Pool saw another excellent set of results for the Berkhamsted Swimming Club youngsters at the Watford County Qualifier.
Over 200 swims resulted in 16 new swims inside the national county qualifying time, 25 improvements on previous county times, and eight regional times alongside eight club records.
Two of the first day’s highlights included a maiden sub-60 second 100m freestyle from Sam Newman and a first sub-five minute 400m free from Amy Pemberton.
Newman’s time of 59.48 brought him sixth place as he dropped 1.3 seconds, while Pemberton lopped off over six seconds to post 4:54.43 for fourth place in her first county time at the distance.
Another first time County QT at 400m free came from Tom Holmes-Higgin (6:13.80) with his bronze medal, while Harrison Bullock, Jordan Northwood (first place and club best) and Newman also improved their PBs in the 400m free.
Kieran Mallory moved himself well up the county rankings with a 2.5 second improvement in the 50m breast and a silver medal to boot, while Harry Thorne replicated the silver in the 14 years age group with his own PB.
Further 100m breast PBs came from Evie Watson and George Thorne, while Callum Bullock won gold in the 13 years age group and Ollie Hurst was a convincing winner in the open category.
Pemberton struck gold in the 100 IM, although slightly outside her best, leaving George Thorne, Harrison Bullock and Newman to set PBs with Peter Lever collecting 15 years silver.
Callum Bullock’s improvement continued with a massive 8 second lowering of his 200 Back (CQT) best to 2:43.43 for silver with brother Harrison in 4th.
In the 100 Free, Pemberton is worrying the best in the region and claimed gold here with another 61 second swim and it surely will not be long before she is knocking on the door of a sub-60 second swim.
Tom Holmes-Higgin sliced off more than 4 seconds as did Helena Martin and there were PBs as well for George Thorne, Dan Chennells, Marley Maidment and Ollie Martin.
Although off his best by some way, Jamie Hoyes did enough to win the 15 years gold and Northwood picked up the open bronze.
Ellen Northwood has had a lean time of late but dropped 2 seconds in the 200 IM for silver and improve her county qualifying prospects in the IM.
She was followed by Yazii Brand taking open gold and Tom Holmes-Higgin again getting inside the CQT with his own nearly 7-second improvement for bronze in 3:23.63.
This was followed by another stand out swim from Harry Thorne who surprised everybody by lopping off over 10 seconds to go inside the CQT in IM for the first time. Hoyes managed to pick up silver in the same event.
The club’s times in the 50 fly were generally off their bests, although Ellen Northwood did win the 14 years girls and George Thorne netted bronze in the 12 years boys.
Mason Brand restated his claim to being amongst the best flyers in the county with silver in a new PB of 29.81 which was also inside the Regional QT for the youngster; his first in the qualifying period. Ollie Martin also improved by over a second and a half and Hoyes took 15 years gold with Lever in 3rd in the same age group. Finally in the fly, Newman won the Open with a half second best posting 29.05.
Day 2 began with the swimmers in the 100 back. Tom Holmes-Higgin set a PB and club best for 4th. Mallory and both Bullocks set PBs in the 12 and 13 years events, and then Christian Nel pocketed the silver in the 15 years age group and Abbie Hurst looked so smooth with third place for the 14 years girls in an almost 4 second improvement to 1:13.59 and another swim inside CQT.
Jess Potts is returning to some sort of form and took 4th in the 15 years category, while Yazii Brand won bronze in the open looking smoother than she has done for a long time.
Tom Holmes-Higgin’s excellent meet continued, going nearly 17 seconds faster in his 200 breast (CQT) and Louis Armitage was another returning to his best with 2nd, PB (8.55 seconds) and his first RQT of the year.
Ollie Hurst claimed bronze (club best) and was followed by a PB for both Tamsin Moren and Amelie Baker who knocked off 5 seconds in a battling display. Ellen Northwood and Louise Holden (6 second PB) picked up third and 4th respectively from the 14 years category.
In the 100 fly, Callum Bullock lowered his best to 1:25.65 and Chris Nel took gold in the 15 years after really attacking the swim at the start.
The club’s strength in the fly events continued to show as Ellen Northwood also won gold and Jess Potts, with her first PB for a while in what was one of the swims of the day for the club’s girls, improved to 1:16.58 for silver.
Then Yazii Brand followed up with a further gold in the open, again going inside 70s for the first time in ages and looking to have rediscovered some of her old zip.
In the 50 breast a 4th placed 39.21 from Armitage was enough for another RQT and kept him ahead of fast improving Mallory who chopped off more than a second from his own PB in 5th place.
Callum Bullock improved to 42.28 (4th) and then Ollie Hurst picked up yet another bronze medal and club best in the open category.
For the girls, Moren improved, Izzie Soulsby took bronze and Baker kept nibbling away at her own times with another PB and then 14 year old Abbie Hurst showed just why she is one of the top short distance breaststrokers for her age in England by screaming home in the fastest time across all age groups, just outside 35 seconds (35.04; club best), to claim the fastest heat and gold in her age group.
In the previous heat, Eli MacDonald put the gut wrenching disappointment of a dubious disqualification in the 200 breast behind her to find extra determination in taking her heat win in a new PB and 4th placed 37.67 (17 years club best).
The 200 free was up next and after Tom Holmes-Higgin (CQT), George Thorne (CQT) and Marley Maidment had all improved by over 7 seconds, and both Harrison Bullock (1.77 seconds ) and Ben Holmes-Higgin (4.82 seconds) had gone quicker, spectators were treated to one of the races of the day.
It involved 5 BSC swimmers and they finished 1,2,3,4,5 in the heat. At the front end of the action, Ish Rahim and Zac Patel went toe to toe from gun to tape with Patel just edging ahead down the final 25m to touch for the heat win in 2:13.45 (5 second pb & CQT) to Rahim’s 2:14.12 (6 second pb & RQT).
Both boys were inside the old club best of James Chennells from the County Champs this year. They were chased home by Adam Hawkswood and James Corner who had their own battle. Hawkswood just came out on top (5 second pb 2:25.90) against Corner (2:26.89 and bronze 12 year old) before Armitage came in 5th in his own PB, improving on his time from October at Club Champs.
After Harry Thorne had dropped his own PB to 2:16.77 the spectators were treated to another exhibition of aggressive swimming from James Chennells.
Showing self belief for once he took on his heat and swam away to a 5 second PB and the gold, improving his CQT position all the time. In the open category Chris Nel was again victorious.
For the girls 200 free, Moren improved fractionally to go inside the CQT, then Izzie Soulsby showed her strength to lower her best for gold, Pemberton doing the same for silver (also club best) and Amy Stoker, looking much smoother, chopped off over a second for sixth.
There were 50 back bests from David Graham, Miles Martin, James Corner, Mallory and Ben Holmes-Higgin and Rahim won gold with his own PB of 31.54.
In the 14 years age group, Brand showed again that his sprinting is coming back to its best coming down to 31.19 for gold and just giving him the club bragging rights in the event over James Chennells (4th in 31.82).
Harry Thorne improved to 35.15 and Cam MacDonald was far too good for his heat, winning with clear water in 36.39 (0.89 second PB).
Tom Weston showed a remarkable turn of speed to post 31.26 for gold in the 15 years 50 back and Lever also improved (by over a second) to take bronze in 33.15. Christina Soulsby in her first open meet at 9 years old dropped her 50 back by 3 seconds with a nice looking swim of 50.05, Moren improved to 43.29 for her own CQT and older sister, Izzie Soulsby improved her ranking with 35.67.
Pemberton surprised herself as much as anybody by streaking to silver, improving over 2 seconds in 33.83 and Stoker dropped to 37.61.
Stoker was up again minutes later for the 200 fly where she picked up a very creditable silver medal.
The final races of the meet were the fast and furious 50 free events.
First time Open swimmer Ben Filer showed no nerves as he put in a 44.79 which was a 2 second PB. Corner is currently the fastest 12-year-old sprinter in the counter and improved again to 29.45 for gold and then Rahim ate up the pool for his own gold in 28.45.
Both Bullock brothers improved their best times as did Harry Thorne (29.45) and Cam MacDonald, closing rapidly on the magic 30 second marker with 31.33 before James Chennells reversed the 50 back placings with Brand, popping in a PB by nearly a second in 27.42 and then Nel, Weston (PB & CQT, showing remarkable pace) and Lever (PB) took 1,2 and 3 in the 15 years age group.
Christina Soulsby set her second PB of the day with 42.31 in the girls’ version, Moren went sub 38 for the first time and Pemberton finished off the meet with gold in the 14 years as she makes sub 30 for 50 free look easy these days.
Other swimmers competing with distinction for the club were, Lydia Wisely, Charlotte Watson, Izzy Sansom and Roisin Clarke.
With the final round of Club Champs next weekend, the county U14 relay championship and Maxwell Open meet both the following weekend this is a busy time for all the swimmers and they just keep stepping up to new heights. They should all be very proud of their achievements.