It was an unusual weekend for Berkhamsted SC with few pool-based competitions – but still plenty of exciting action.
Instead, three swimmers from the club ventured to Devon for the 6km Bantham Swoosh river swim, further than they had ever swum before in one go.
Elsewhere, one of the coaches competed in the Henley Classic Mile swim while another coach took on the hilly 100-mile Chiltern Sportive cycle ride –all on one of the hottest days of the year.
Izzy Sansom, Harrison Bullock and twin brother Callum were the bold adventurers who travelled to Devon.
After a 5am start to fit with the tides, the swimmers donned wetsuits and swam a distance of 6km with 712 other souls. This was the furthest either of the trio had completed in an open water swim.
Callum finished in one hour 21 minutes, 29 seconds, placing him a superb second in his age group, the 57th male and 119th overall.
The next of the club’s athletes out of the water was Izzy Sansom in a highly respectable 1:22:57. It was so respectable that, when the results were announced, she was first in her category, the 24th female and 139th overall.
Harrison swiftly followed in 1:23:19, for third in his age group and 134th overall.
All three pushed themselves to the limit, well outside their normal comfort zones, with both the temperature of the salt water and the tidal ‘swoosh’ being something completely new to them.
Their club’s head coach Geoff Wood said: “The experience has added variety to their training and further confirms the breadth of experiences available following practice provided by our local swimming club’s training practices.”
Coach Jan Stevens, fresh from her own recent return to open water, went to Henley for the classic mile event and opted to ditch the wetsuit due to the warm temperatures on the day.
At the end of the event she was delighted to find that she had chopped minutes from her previous best – done in a wetsuit – to record 29 minutes 47 seconds, which placed her 16th in her age group.
Finally, head coach Wood took on the gruelling 100-mile Chiltern Cycling Festival Sportive event around the Chiltern Hills. On a scorching day with temperatures topping 30C, it was a brutal ride completed in seven hours, 18 minutes of total riding time.
Meanwhile, in the pool, three swimmers from Berkhamsted stepped up to take part in the Level 2 meet run by Putteridge SC at the Inspire Luton Venue configured as a 25m (short-course) pool.
Abbie Briers, Tamsin Moren and Ish Rahim turned the meet to their advantage with times that put them in the running for the County Championships in January 2019, once the season recommences in September.
Briers began the meet with her first-ever 200m individual medley and, after overcoming initial nerves, romped to a fifth-placed finish in the 12-years category with a time of 3:00.13, which provided her first county consideration time (CCT) of the year.
She followed this up with another CCT in the 100m freestyle, improving her best time to 1:10.36 for seventh place, before just falling short of her best in her third and final event of the session, the 50m backstroke where she recorded 39.31.
Moren has endured an injurey-marred 2018 season but has still shown how quick she can be, making it to the Regional Championship in late spring.
As she returns to full fitness, Moren is going to be a force to be reckoned with, regionally at the very least.
In the 200m breaststroke she smashed through the three-minute barrier for the first time, clocking a county qualifying time (CQT) of 2:59.33 and picking up a silver medal to boot. This put her fourth in the county at time of writing.
Previously, Moren has seen her best event as the 50m breaststroke but on this occasion she was just outside her best, albeit still inside 40 seconds, clocking 39.36 for fourth place.
She then she showed her strength and endurance in the 100m breaststroke when taking gold in 1:24.24 which, although just shy of her personal best (PB) was still enough another CQT for 2019.
She finished the meet in style by slicing well over a second from her 50m fly time, (35.25) for a CCT, which augurs well for her medley swims later in the autumn.
Rahim was looking for some speed work before heading to Sheffield for the English Championships this month.
He began by reducing his 200m fly time by nearly two seconds (2:22.56) for a CQT and a gold medal.
Then, in the event he will be competing in at Sheffield, the 50m fly, he set a new PB, showing his sharpness in 26.98 for another gold medal.
He will hope to show even more basic speed in Sheffield. Rahim is ranked first in the county at the 50m fly, second in the 100m and third at 200m.
His improvements continued with a near-three second bettering of his 200m free best, (2:06.20) for another CCT and a bronze medal, before finishing the meet with gold in the 100m fly, in 1:01.28, another CQT.
Rahim will travel to Sheffield with three other Berkhmasted SC members, Ella Nijkamp (50m backstroke), Zac Patel (50m fly) and James Chennells (200m and 400m free).
It is the largest contingent that this small club has ever sent to the nationals.