Berkhamsted Swimming Club’s Ciara McKenna is looking forward to competing in Sardinia this week to represent Great Britain in the European Down-Syndrome Swimming Championships.
As part of the lead-up to the major meet, Ciara attended a successful week-long swim camp with the British squad in Newcastle earlier this month.
She had the opportunity to train at the Royal Grammar School, with morning and afternoon pool sessions as well as physiothrapy, psychology and tailored land-training sessions.
The swimmers received visits from top swimmers to support their efforts and the volunteer coaching team. Ciara has been training hard in preparation for the event in Sardinia, which opened on Sunday and runs until this Sunday, September 22.
She is very excited to be representing her country and people can check on her progress via Twitter by following the @DSSGB1 account.
Meanwhile, the club had a great time at the annual Hoddesdon Novice Open event to begin the new season, which heralds a hectic phase of competition for members.
Held at Southbury Road pool in Enfield, it provided the usual rich pickings for Berkhamsted in the form of personal best (PB) swims and a healthy medal haul.
The opening event, the girls’ 200m individual medley (IM), brought gold and silver for Keira Wharton and Abbie Briers, respectively, in their age groups, with Wharton lowering her PB by five seconds to 2:45.17 to be the fastest swimmer on the day.
In the boys’ 200m freestyle there was a first-time swim for Ezi Svichla-Fekete and a PB for Pierce Philbin (2:50.72), while brother Ronan took silver in 2:42.95, right on his best.
Open meet newcomer Ava Bartlett dropped an amazing seven seconds in her 50m freestyle for fifth place and Issy Whitaker improved her time to 36.34 for sixth.
Briers finished fourth in the 13-years age group, just behind Lydia Wisely, who started her campaign with a PB of 31.35 and silver. Wharton’s great meet continued with gold in 30.15, just 3/100ths off her best.
The 50m fly provided bronze for Euan Donald with his first sub-30 swim (29.75), with George Thorne just behind in fourth. They swam in adjacent lanes with Donald’s longer reach taking the day in the final strokes.
All four girls hit PBs in the 100m backstroke. Kate Hopper posted 1:27.91 for fourth, Briers was fourth in 1:21.22, Wisely took bronze in 1:19.79 and Wharton a third gold in 1:15.19.
Both Philbin brothers completed the 100m breaststroke for the first time, with Ronan coming out on top in 1:41.72, while in the girls’ 50m breaststroke, Ella Langdon’s first Open meet produced a smooth-looking 1:01.22.
In the 50m backstroke Thorne grabbed silver medal in 33.00.
The 100m freestyle saw Issy Whitaker post 1:22.97 for fourth place as a marker for the future. Bartlett dropped six seconds to 1:37.38 for sixth and Hopper collected her first County Consideration Time (CCT) in 1:13.81 having attacked the race from the off to storm her heat and improve by seven seconds.
Briers reversed the 50m placings with Wisely claiming silver in 1:09.53 and Wharton a silver in 1:08.66.
The morning session finished with the boys’ 100m IM and Donald improved again to take silver in 1:07.95.
The afternoon began with a bang as Lawson Gray romped to a massive 20-second PB and a silver medal in 3:20.50. Brother George improved by eight seconds to clock 3:15.38.
Eric Batt continued the PB streak in 3:06.08 and Alex Kalverboer pocketed silver, with Donald collecting bronze.
The girls’ 200m freestyle included a first-time swim for Heidi Batchelor-Hannaby (3:38.47), a 15-second PB for Bella Walker (3:30.89), a 12-second drop for Phoebe Goss (3:02.98) and a 16-second PB for Mia Maslen-Wollington (fourth in 2:40.75), completing a clean sweep of best times.
Nat Costelloe set a first-time 50m freestyle PB in 45.42 and Riley Milne’s first effort produced 38.99, before Kalverboer and Thorne were in the medals again in 30.27 for silver and 27.50 for bronze respectively.
In the girls’ 50m fly, Bartlett and Batchelor-Hannaby completed first-time efforts, Maslen-Wollington took fifth, Wisely earned a bronze and Wharton claimed another gold in 31.50.
Batt lopped an impressive 12 seconds from his 100m backstroke best for fourth (1:24.76), Svichla-Fekete replicate his own PB time in 1:32.97, while Kalverboer and Thorne won their classes.
In the 100m breaststroke Lucy Franklin’s first attempt produced 2:13.52, Goss won her heat in a PB time of 1:45.13 and Emma Hockney showed her recent huge improvements with a gold in 1:30.56 to take her heat win into the bargain.
In the 50m breaststroke, Will Franklin clocked 58.75, Lawson Gray came away with a bronze in 47.95 (PB), Batt took silver in 44.23 (PB) and there was a brace of bronzes for George Gray and Kalverboer.
Lucy Franklin’s initial effort in the 50m backstroke was 1:01.15, Walker lowered her PB by six seconds to 48.82, Maslen-Wollington was sixth, Hockney fifth, Wisely produced another PB to pick up a gold in 35.72 and Wharton’s haul included another gold after clocking 34.56,
Lawson Gray touched the pads in 1:22.03 in the 100m freestyle to win his heat and take bronze, improving one second to 1:22.03. George Gray went just over half-a-second faster than his previous best in 1:18.10 and Thorne was again frustratingly close to the 60-second barrier after a heavy day, posting 1:00.84 for a silver medal.
The final event was the girls’ 100m IM and the swimmers were still improving their times. Goss posted 1:35.22, Batchelor-Hannaby dropped inside two minutes for the first time in 1:59.66, Bartlett shaved off 3/10ths of a second to go to 1:50.69 and Wisely capped her meet with a bronze in another best time of 1:22.53.