Medals galore as Berkhamsted swimmers turn on the style

The Berkhamsted swimmers claimed 10 age group gold medals, nine age group silvers and 11 age group bronzes
The Berkhamsted swimmers claimed 10 age group gold medals, nine age group silvers and 11 age group bronzes

The final two days of Herts ASA County Swimming Championships saw Berkhamsted SC’s young stars battling it out in the longer distance races.

These included the 400 free and IM, and the 800 and 1500 freestyle events, followed by the party time of the fast, frenetic relays.

Berkhamsted Swimming Club had two girls competing in the Saturday morning 400m free races – Izzie Soulsby and Amy Pemberton – alongside George Thorne, Ish Rahim, Zac Patel, James Chennells and Jordan Northwood in the 400 IM.

Soulsby started the day with the 400 free and she managed a 13s PB, finishing third in her heat and as fifth 13-year-old overall in yet another regional qualifying time with a superbly paced swim of 4:55.08.

Pemberton was next up and she also stepped up to the task, slicing 8s from her own PB, winning her heat in 4:46.78 to place as seventh 15-year-old.

For the boys, Thorne was first up in the 400 IM and he soldiered bravely through the race to finish with a PB of 6:17.92.

Rahim looked in great shape in his own IM and finished 4s ahead of his best but, unluckily, was disqualified for a faulty turn.

Chennells has had a terrific series and raced to his own RQT for seventh 15-year-old; he was in the same heat as Patel who swam well without really getting into the race.

Northwood was the club’s final athlete in the IM and was delighted to finish just over a second outside his best in 4:56.29.

The afternoon saw the reverse races as Soulsby showed her resolve with an even better race in the IM, winning her heat by almost 25m.

The following heat saw her rivals just able to pip her posted time and she ended with the 13-year-old bronze, missing silver by just 0.6s.

In the 400 free, Tom Holmes-Higgin dropped his time by 13s, while Rahim clocked an 8s PB and another RQT as he won bronze. Chennells lopped off another 6s with a time of 4:27.68 for third in heat and sixth overall.

The final day saw Soulsby and Pemberton going head to head in the same 800 heat. Pemberton used her fast start to clock a 9s PB while Soulsby went 18s quicker than ever before and took the bronze medal.

The final individual efforts came from Northwood and Chennells, again in the 1500. Northwood recorded a 12s PB in fifth place overall, with a club best of 17:25.36, before Chennells won the heat by some 8s to secure the club’s first ever 1500m gold medal and another RQT to cap the best ever championships for the local club.

The final session was relay time; Berkhamsted had eight squads each swimming both the 4x50m free and 4x50m medley relays.

The 12/13 years girls free was led off by Abi Hewson in 31.73 and finished off by Evie Watson, Amelie Baker and Soulsby to improve their seed time by nearly 2s and take seventh place.

Ellen Northwood led off the 14/15 girls in 29.65, Abbie Hurst dropped into the 28s and then late stand-in Izzie Sansom was another to swim her quickest ever leg before Pemberton swam 27.64 to pip the third placed team.

The senior girls broke the club best for the event in 1:58.44 as Eli MacDonald, Jess Potts, Yazii Brand and Eleanor Jolliffe finished in eighth.

George Thorne, Kieran Mallory, Euan Donald and James Corner combined for another fourth place in the 12/13 years race, while there were two teams in each of the boys 14/15 and open relays.

For the 14/15 squad there were best times from brothers Callum (31.12) and Harrison (30.79), before handing over to Cam MacDonald and Harry Thorne that to go 4s ahead of their previous combined best.

For the A squad, Mason Brand led out in 28.37, supported by Patel (27.05), Rahim (27.37) and yet another blast from Chennells (27.14) – bringing them home for a super silver medal in 1:49.93.

The Senior Boys B team saw Ollie Hurst (27.00), Tom Strakosch (26.77), Tom Lyons (26.57) and Peter Lever (27.42) clock 1:47.86, again 2s faster than their previous combined PBs.

The A team saw Jamie Hoyes (27.14), Northwood (26.07), Jack Filer (26.78) and Chris Nel (25.35) clock a combined time of 1:45.34 for seventh place.

The last races were the medley relays in the same order.

The 12/13 girls were seeded 10th and Hewson (back), Soulsby (breast), Baker (fly), Watson (free) improved four places on their seeding to end up sixth.

Sansom led off the 14/15 girls in a 2s 50 back PB, and Hurst, Northwood and Pemberton brought the squad home in fifth.

The Senior Girls once again finished in ninth, two places better than seeded courtesy of fine efforts from Brand (back), MacDonald (breast), Potts (fly) and Jolliffe (free).

The 12/13 boys were placed fourth yet again as George Thorne, Mallory (breast), Euan Donald and Cam MacDonald posted 2:27.01 from fifth seed.

Callum Bullock (back), Harry Thorne (breast), Harrison Bullock (fly) and Cam MacDonald (free) combined to beat their entry time for 12th and then Rahim (back), Brand (breast), Patel (fly) and Chennells won the squad’s second silver.

With Lever (back) handing over to Hurst (32.52 breast), Lyons (28.03 fly) and Northwood (free) moving from 12th seed to 10th place, it was left to Strakosch (back 29.81), Filer (32.06 breast), Hoyes (fly) and Nel (free) to combine for fifth place.

In total, the Berkhamsted swimmers claimed 10 age group gold, nine age group silver and 11 age group bronze medals, alongside four Junior Championship wins and a further six Junior championship medals, plus the two silvers for the 14/15 boys’ relay team.