Berkhamsted Swimming Club had 20 of their young swimmers competing at the Hemel Open over the weekend.
The meet ended with a host of medals and many good personal best (PB) times, especially for the club’s novice swimmers.
In the 200m individual medley (IM) club captain Vicky Ayles, Destiny Carnell and Lydia Wisely were all within three seconds of their best times and Ayles’ time of 2:57.34 was enough for gold in the 16-and-over age group.
First-time Open meet swimmer Ed Eastaff should be pleased with his 200m freestyle time of 3:54.00 which included a PB for the 11-year-old at 100m in 1:45.15.
Carnell and Ayles had good swims in the 50m freestyle and it was gold again for Ayles in 33.16 with a further gold for Down Syndrome GB swimmer Ciara McKenna.
Nine-year-old Nat Costelloe completed his first 50m backstroke in 48.41 for fourth in his age group and completed his first 100m breaststroke in 2:10.82, before Ayles made it three golds in the session, taking the 100m backstroke within 0.3 seconds of her best in 1:22.55.
McKenna also collected a second gold in the same event.
Carnell showed consistent form with her own backstroke.
Eric Batt smashed out what looked to be a massive PB in the 200m IM, finishing in 2:58.34, but he made a mistake on a turn and so his time sadly did not count, but it showed his ability.
David Graham looked tired in his own IM for fourth place, while Chris Hughes repeated his PB display from a week earlier in taking silver in the Open age category.
The second session started in great fashion in the 200m freestyle when Heidi Batchelor-Hannaby dropped five seconds to 3:33.91 for fourth place and another 10-year-old, Sophie Davies, went even better to improve more than 20 seconds to 3:37.57.
Mia Maslen-Wollington clocked a six-second PB as she led from the start to a heat win in 2:34.32 and a gold medal. The attacking style she showed also included a 100m PB at halfway in 1:15.49.
In the same age group, Kate Hopper showed her inherent talent to improve by nearly 40 seconds to 2:45.98 for another gun-to-touch heat win and fourth overall. Her swim included a 50m PB of 34.15. Carnell also clocked her own PB as her consistent swimming produced a time of 2:43.40. McKenna produced another first-place finish in a time of 4:36.98.
Costelloe claimed fourth in the 50m freestyle in another PB (43.68), while another first-timer, Conall O’Brien, showed good strength of character when a faulty machine caused him to dive in before the official start. He had to climb out to recompose himself, then displayed great effort to claim bronze in the 10-years age group with a two-second best in 40.47.
Batt won gold in 32.28, Graham dropped to 30.37 for fourth and Hughes clocked 28-dead to pick up a bronze.
In the 50m backstroke, Davies clocked a best time of 56.29, Maslen-Wollington and Hopper improved to 38.03 for a silver medal and 39.46 for fourth, respectively, with Hopper again leading her opposition home in convincing style.
McKenna claimed another medal with a bronze.
In the 100m fly, Batt was delighted with a first legal swim to take gold in 1:26.61 and a heat win.
Graham posted 1:23.49 and Hughes wrapped up an impressive day by dropping two seconds to pocket gold in 1:06.91.
The first day ended with the girls’ 100m breaststroke producing a fourth-place finish for Davies in 2:12.34, another heat win for Hopper in 1:40.80 for another huge PB for fourth, bronze for Maslen-Wollington as she improved another second to 1:36.57 and bronze for Moren, claiming another gold in a consistent 1:26.15.
Sunday was the reverse events, starting with the girls’ 200m backstroke. Wisely kept the momentum moving with her a PB of 2:53.59 and Carnell improved her time from the Harpenden meet, clocking 3:02.88.
George Thorne began his campaign with a silver medal in the 50m fly in 30.22 and in the girls’ 50m breaststroke Megan Royal picked up second in her heat, improving to 46.67 for her first time under 50 seconds. Hopper hit 46.01 for another fourth-place finish, before Moren wrapped up gold in 38.19.
Thorne was back up for the 100m IM and spot on his PB with 1:11.47, enough for a bronze medal.
Royal dived back in for the 100m freestyle and sliced 26 seconds off his PB in 1:23.44 and Hopper gained her first medal with a silver in 1:11.80, improving her 50m PB en route from the previous day’s 34.15 to 33.23.
Moren finished that event with her own bronze medal and McKenna’s golden weekend continued in the 100 freestyle with another first-place finish.
Thorne collected another gold in the 100m backstroke, while in the 200m breaststroke Royal posted a first-time swim of 3:42.64 to win her heat.
In the same 200m breaststroke, Maslen-Wollington claimed bronze in 3:28.66, which was a 2.5-second improvement on her PB, and Moren made it a breaststroke clean sweep when taking gold in 3:03.02.
Royal continued to show how much she has improved recently by slicing nearly 17 seconds from her 50m fly PB to finish second in her heat in 45.74 and McKenna pocketed a final gold in the 50m fly.
Caitie Walters has found that changing clubs has affected her recent form, but she is now bringing times down again and claimed gold in the 50m fly, dropping nearly a second from her PB in 36.80, thanks to better underwater stretches and longer strokes.
Thorne took silver in the 50m breaststroke and gold in the 100m freestyle, despite not quite being at his best.
In the 100m IM, a first effort from Royal produced a time of 1:34.84 for fourth.
Maslen-Wollington, tired after her previous efforts, still claimed silver, as did Moren, although both were just outside their best times.
In the final event of the meet, Walters showed her strength by lowering her month-old 200m fly PB to 3:16.42 to come away with a silver medal.
The club’s head coach Geoff Wood said: “With next week bring the Luton Open and British Masters in Sheffield, it’s a frantic time for the club in terms of events, but shows just how thriving the club continues to be, offering opportunities across all ages and levels of ability for the athletes to enjoy the sport.”