FULL REPORT: Berkhamsted’s young swimmers impress at Luton’s autumn meet

Berkhamsted SC members Eva Lawson, Vicky Ayles and Tamsin Moren at Luton's autumn short-course meet at the weekend.
Berkhamsted SC members Eva Lawson, Vicky Ayles and Tamsin Moren at Luton's autumn short-course meet at the weekend.

A select band of nine swimmers from Berkhamsted SC impressed at Luton’s Inspire complex for the autumn short-course meet at the weekend when they improved on their best times.

There were some excellent performances, especially from Eva Lawson, who is rewriting the club’s records in the girls’ 10-year age category every time she swims.

The club’s other swimmers at the meet, Dan Chennells, Ellen Northwood, Vicky Ayles, Emma Hockney, Tamsin Moren, Issy Soulsby and Chrissie Soulsby, and Abbie Briers all performed well.

Chennells began the meet by dropping over half-a-second from his Open 100m backstroke time, to claim the first County Consideration Time (CCT) of the meet for the club, placing him 9th.

He followed that up with another 9th-placed finish, just off his personal best (PB) in the 50m backstroke, clocking 31.63.

Northwood gets very little water time these days, but plugged away in the 200m fly to record 2:46.55 and pick up the club’s first medal of the meet with a silver in the Open category.

She backed that up with her fastest 50m fly time since 2015 (31.60) and her first sub-30-second 50m freestyle time for over two years with 29.77. Both the 50m sprints were inside the CCTs for January.

Ayles is starting to come good in her racing and began the meet by slicing nearly 15 seconds from her 200m individual medley (IM) time, lowering it to 2:54.95, having set a 50m best after the fly leg of 39.06 en route and followed it with a 2:31.41 200m freestyle swim. After a 33.55 for her 50m freestyle she swam a 200m backstroke for the first time, posting 2:50.23, and then stood up for the 800m freestyle event. Starting possibly too conservatively, she notched up consistent 50m splits but was able to raise her game in the final 50m of just over 35 seconds. Her final time of 10:43.87 obliterated her previous best by over half-a-minute and saw her set a 400m PB at half-way mark as well in 5:22.64.

Hockney has been working hard on her technique in recent months and it is starting to show when she bumped her 200m freestyle time down to 2:50.76 and followed it up with a 50m freestyle time of 32.99.

Moren continues her return to something like her old form and started the meet on Sunday with the 400m IM, just a fortnight after setting her most recent PB. Showing strength borne from the knowledge of how to swim it correctly, she dropped another six seconds, finishing agonisingly close to breaking the six-minute barrier in 6:01.66, improving her CCT to claim a silver medal in the 13-year-old age group.

Evidence of her confidence is that she set a new 100m butterfly PB at the end of the first 100m in 1:15.81, bettering her previous stand-alone best by exactly two seconds.

She followed this up by taking over 2.5 seconds from her 50m backstroke best, placing fourth in 36.21 (CCT) and then dropped more than 11 seconds in her 200m backstroke for seventh place in 2:48.70 and another CCT.

Like Ayles, she went for the 800m freestyle and improved by nearly seven seconds. Her early speed was such that she also set bests at both 100m (1:15.81) and 400m (5:33.88) on her way through, finishing with her second-fastest 50m time of the race in the final 50m with 35.97.

Issy Soulsby and Chrissie Soulsby were involved on the Sunday morning. Issy went faster than at any time since the County Champs earlier this year in the 100m backstroke with 1:10.97 (CCT) and pocketed a bronze medal in the Open 50m backstroke with 33.16,

Meanwhile, Chrissie unfortunately had two disqualifications, going early in her 100m fly, but with the knowledge that it was faster than she has ever swum the race before.

Abbie Briers improved both her 100m freestyle and 50m fly best times to 1:09.27 and 36.01, both faster by more than a second and both CCTs as well.

Biggest smiles of the weekend came from Eva Lawson who goes from strength to strength across all strokes and distances. In six races, she set six PBs, claimed five gold medals and a silver, as well as re-writing five club records.

She began by slicing well over three seconds from her 50m breaststroke best for gold and a club-best in 43.98, breaking Moren’s two-year-old record and her first County Qualifying Time (CQT) of the meet.

This was followed by a huge 15-second bettering of her 200m IM time for another gold in 2:54.49 and taking Issy Soulsby’s 2014 club-best with the first sub-three-minute swim by a Berkhamsted SC member.

In the 200m breaststroke she was almost 30 seconds faster than ever before. Her 3:27.83 time included a PB at 100m (1:41.50) and another CQT into the bargain.

Next up was another gold in the 100m backstroke where she went 14 seconds faster than before in 1:19.63 for another club record by seven seconds, breaking the club-best on the books from 2013 (CQT).

On Sunday morning she began with what was now a norm, with a nine-second club-best mark (1:28.85) in the 100m fly which earned gold and another CQT. Lawson finished the meet with 2:50.59, shattering the oldest club-best on the books from June 2013 by a massive 13 seconds (CQT) for a fifth gold medal.