This weekend saw the breadth of Berkhamsted Swimming Club’s talent once again as the club continues to flourish.
Mark Strakosch and Rachel Barber – albeit the latter was swimming under the colours of the Royal Navy – travelled to Ponds Forge for the GB Masters short course championships and both came away with a medal.
Mark started the ball rolling with an epic 1500m swim. Already the east region record holder for his age group (50-54) at the distance, he hoped to lower the record still further and did not disappoint.
With a trademark even paced swim he improved by some 8s to come away with the silver medal and put the record on the shelf for a period of time.
His pace was so good that he set a PB at 800m on the way through as well, while Mark also went PB in his 200 IM.
Barber, meanwhile began with a PB in the 100m breast, and followed with PBs in every event bar her 100 fly.
But her highlight was being part of the Navy’s 100+ years 4x50 free relay squad that won gold – her own contribution was a sub-30s leg, making her second fastest on the team.
Elsewhere, Berkhamsted’s younger swimmers departed for Luton’s Inspire Complex for two long days of competition.
From nearly 125 swims, the young guns had a 75 per cent PB hit rate and won a hatful of medals.
James Chennells kicked the meet off in fine style with 5.13.86 Gold in the 400IM that was 10 seconds inside the notional CQT and a club record as well.
Ellen Northwood and Amelie Baker both set new figures in the 100 Breast and then James Corner began a fine meet for him personally with an 18 second improvement in the 100 Back for silver (CQT). Dan Chennells, George & Harry Thorne all improved their best times in the 100 Back before James Chennells lopped 2 seconds off his best for his second gold of the day. Zac Patel is improving every outing and took his own gold (pb & CQT) in the same event. Chris Nel also improved taking 4th.
In the 400 Free Izzie Soulsby chopped off 6 seconds but was not completely happy with her swim and was to go even quicker on Sunday.
Patel went quicker again in his 100 Fly for 4th. James Chennells picked up bronze (pb) and then Jordan Northwood broke his first Club Record of 4 across the 2 days by taking the 16 years boys best down to 1.02.97 and picking up the bronze medal.
In the 50 Back there were Golds for Patel & Nel, both in pbs and CQTs and Nel delighted to go sub 30 for the first time, improving the club best for his age to 29.70 as his sprint speed continues to improve.
Dan Chennells lowered his pb in the 200 Back as did Harry Thorne (8 seconds), Patel & Chennells. Patel’s previous pb was only 2 weeks old and his swim was good enough for third place with James pocketing another Gold, both boys inside the CQT.
Soulsby’s next race was the 200 IM and she blitzed the final 50 to come home 8 seconds ahead of her previous best and take bronze.
In the 1500m Free, Peter Lever was not to be out done by Strakosch’s earlier efforts and actually set pbs at both 400m and 800m on his way to a superb improvement of over 32 seconds at the finish going under 20 minutes for the first time, posting 19.37.76.
For the girls’ 200 Free, Baker went 2.33.29 (7 second pb), Roisin Clarke 2.31.60 (5 second pb) for the best swims from the club in the event.
Corner was in sumptuous form again in the 100 Free breaking his own club record as he came home in 1.07.34 for the Gold medal. Harry Thorne slipped inside the CQT with his own pb of 1.02.62 and Patel also closed on the elusive 60 second barrier with 1.02.89 for 4th place. Chris Nel and Jordan Northwood both went inside the minute with Jordan claiming the club bragging rights with 55.64 for silver in what was also a club record.
Amelie Baker’s strong showing on the day ended with another pb in the 200 Breast.
Patel and Harry Thorne slugged their way to pbs in the 50 Fly for 2nd and 4th respectively followed by Nel and Northwood at it again in the 50 Fly with Northwood again just coming out on top in 28.48 (2nd) to 28.83 (4th).
Lydia Wisely in only her second Open meet picked up bronze for her 2 second improvement in the 50 Free.
Sunday came round too soon for many for the second day of a heavy schedule and began with Charlotte Watson showing something of a return to form in winning the 400 IM inside the CQT.
Tamsin Moren is still on her way back from illness and was delighted to win gold in the 10 years 100 Back with a 10 second improvement and then Clarke showed her consistency by improving her own pb from 2 weeks ago to pinch the bronze medal in 1.16.24. Watson took silver in the 14 years age group.
James Chennells was in cruise control in his 400 free as he swam to the bronze medal just 0.4 seconds outside his pb and then Jordan Northwood was involved in a race long scrap in his heat, just losing out in the final 50m sprint, but clocking a pb of 4.19.77 for another club best performance.
In the 50 Breast, Dan Chennells went pb with Marley Maidment a shade outside his own pb.
Moren took third place in a pb for the 50 Back as Watson took her own Gold and Jess Potts delighted everybody with her own pb at 15 years old, despite nagging back problems.
Ish Rahim has been firing on all cylinders lately and swam to a powerful heat win, bronze medal, CQT and club record in the killer 200 Fly, hitting the pads in 2.36.40 winning his heat by some 15 metres.
After heavy schedules, Roisin Clarke and Moren were both, understandably tired for their 200 Back but Watson showed more evidence of her old power getting within 1/100th of a second of her best time for the gold medal and her own Club record.
The medley events regularly show the stronger swimmers as they require 4 good strokes and Dan Chennells showed he is moving that way in the 200IM, as he finished 19 seconds ahead of his pre-race pb with 3.08.12. Maidment was just 5/100ths outside his best in the same heat as they finished first and third, with a strong swim. Rahim was a class apart from his heat again slicing 12 seconds off his best to claim the silver medal. James Chennells popped up with yet another pb in the IM taking another Gold in 2.28.17 and seems in prime form ahead of his own 1500m race at East region Winter Championships in a fortnight’s time. Northwood, true to form improved his own club record again dropping it to 2.17.29 for the bronze medal.
In the 800m Free, Izzie Sansom proved she has what it takes to deliver a fast freestyle race popping out an 8 second best time of 11.25.17 before Soulsby dived back in to obliterate her own pb in possibly the swim of the meet for Berkhamsted. She led her heat from the gun and had sufficient in reserve to go 3 seconds quicker (38.5) in the final 50m than she had been repping (41) for the previous 600m. Izzie stormed home in 10.13.21 lowering the club record by the huge margin of 35 seconds, to move her to the top of the County rankings for the distance. Her 400 split time was 5.03.34, some 10 seconds faster than her 400 race the day before!
Corner continued his impressive weekend in the 200 Free posting 2.25.40 for silver and a club record and then Nel and Northwood were at it again. Chris tried to hang on to Jordan at the start of the race with both boys turning in 28 at 50m. Northwood showed how strong he is by splitting sub 60 at half way and fought valiantly up the final 50 before just losing on the touch but posting 2.01.30 for another pb and club best. Chris finished with a 1 second pb himself making his early efforts worthwhile.
In the 100 Free Moren posted another pb and Ellen Northwood, after a lack lustre first day took bronze for the 14 years and Watson just pipped her for silver, both inside the CQT.
Wisely came back for one more race, the final girls’ event of the meet and was delighted to take home another bronze from the 50 Fly, Moren took silver. Clarke set pb, as did Watson for silver and she held the club best for just 1 minute because Northwood stepped up in the next heat and went 1 second quicker still in taking the Gold medal in 31.51.
The final event of the whole meet was the Boys’ 50 Free and Corner crowned his efforts by smashing through the 30 second barrier to post 29.72 for another Gold medal. Lever went pb with 27.81 and Nel finished the meet for the club with another Gold and club record smacking the timing pads in exactly 25 seconds to complete a memorable 2 days.