It was a busy weekend for Hemel swimmers who were involve in an Arena League competition on Saturday and their Club Championships on Sunday.
On Saturday, the Arena team showed great tenacity throughout the second round of the competition at Luton, coming fifth with many close finishes. Despite a number of absences they actually swam faster than in the previous round, posting the fourth fastest time ever by a Hemel team, suggesting that there’s still more to come.
Alice Fender won the 100 free, and there were 17 other second and third places, 11 individual PBs and three club age group records – by Heidi Gibbens in the 100 breast and Sam Gaines in the 100 fly and 200 IM (breaking his brother’s record by 7 hundredths of a second!).
Sam was also part of the boys u16 relay team along with Ashley Coombs, Jonny Farrow, Cameron Clark (in the free) and Joe Coldwell (medley) which set new Club Arena records in both their relays, breaking records set in 2008. Other Club Arena records were set by Ashley, Georgia Purkis and Jack Christie.
There were top three finishes by the girls u12 free and medley team (Grace Cawley, Holly Robinson, Freya Goad and Elizabeth Kelly), the boys u13 medley team (Sam Ward, Seyi Bankole, Mattias Morse and Lewis Clark), the girls u16 free and medley team (Alice Fender, Izzy Anderton, Georgia Purkis and Shona McKenna) and both open free teams (for the girls – Becky Hopper, Paige Wilding, Kira Doyle, Keelin McKenna, Rebecca Sewell and Alice Fender, and for the boys – Jack Christie, Jacob Hutchings, Kyle Holmes, Ashley Coombs, Sam Gaines and Joe Gillam).
There were individual top three finishes by Holly Robinson, Mattias Morse, Leanne Abrey, Keelin McKenna, Elizabeth Kelly, Ashley Coombs, Jack Christie and Georgia Purkis. The rest of the team was Millie Anderton, Freya Beresford, Seve Carrillo de Albornoz, Dylan Kennell, Niall Marsden, Henry Newbury-Kemp, Jess Walters, Sam Ward, Nathan Whiting and Emily Young.
On Sunday, 71 Hemel swimmers swam in the 400 free Club Championships. Georgia Purkis broke her own age group club record set just last weekend by five seconds in an epic contest with Alice Fender which Alice just edged.
There were 42 personal best times and 23 swimmers entered the event for the first time, gaining valuable experience. A perennial problem with longer distance races is getting enough competition of a similar standard for swimmers to perform to the best of their ability.
For the first time the event was run with Watford SC and the result was a great atmosphere and exciting races with placings in a number of heats being decided by less than a tenth of a second after 16 lengths of cat and mouse tactical racing.