Four talented young swimmers from Berkhamsted Swimming Club travelled to Basildon, Essex, over the weekend for the East Region Winter Championships.
Zac Patel, Ish Rahim, Abi Hewson and Dan Chennells put in some fine displays and clocked up speedy times.
Rahim began the meet with a second-place finish in his heat of the 200m individual medley (IM), slicing more than two seconds from his personal best (PB) as he posted 2:19.47 from a golden lane.
He was followed by Patel, who was satisfied with his time of 2:20.40 after a superb first 50m on the butterfly.
Hewson was unfortunate to be disqualified in her 50m backstroke after a fast swim, hitting the pads in 32.62.
The morning session ended with Chennells spotting his finish perfectly to take almost three-quarters of a second from his best time to clock 26.11 for a third-place finish in a heat where he was seeded only sixth.
This left the afternoon session for Rahim and Patel in their favourite event, the 50m fly.
Rahim was first and swam a cracking race until the end, where he just missed finishing right on the end of his stroke, which cost him a PB, but he still managed his second-fastest swim ever in 27.28.
Patel exploded off the blocks and led his heat at halfway, turning sub-12 seconds, and came back just as strongly to record a PB of 26.06. Initially this put him ninth overall from a seeding of equal 14th but a withdrawalfrom the final granted him a second opportunity.
It was a chance he took well, as he improved again to 26.04 for eighth, with yet more soft skills on show, lowering the 50m fly club-best again.
Day two dawned and Patel, Rahim and Chennells were back again for the 50m backstroke.
Patel began with another exhibition of his skills, winning his heat off the start and coming home comfortably ahead in a PB time of 29.31 for his first sub-30 second swim.
Chennells created a fast turnover to swim his second-fastest time in the outside lane one, posting 30.42.
It was then down to Rahim, who clocked 28.73 to beat his own club-best time in 28.73.
In the 100m fly, Patel looked on course to go under 60 seconds for the first time until the last few metres, but he still won the heat in a frustrating 1:00.11, while Rahim finished in 1:02.74, perhaps ruing not going out a bit harder.
In the final event, Rahim stormed off the blocks from the slowest-seeded lane eight to come home in fourth in the heat (55.37), just 0.04 shy of his best.
The club’s head coach Geoff Wood said afterwards: “At this early stage in the season all the swimmers should be delighted with their performances and look forward, with confidence, to the rest of the season.”