Berkhamsted Swimming Club members have been competing at some prestigious meets over the last couple of weeks to bring the season to an exciting climax.
Abbie Hurst began the series by travelling to Ponds Forge Sheffield for the British Summer Championships.
Competing in the 13/14 years 50m breaststroke, she was seeded and finished 16th in her age group with a time just 0.1 seconds outside her PB set at Regional Championships in June as she touched home second in her heat.
She used the experience gained at this top level when she travelled North again, in company with Christian Nel, for the English Championships.
Hurst competed in the 100 breaststroke (seeded sixth) and Nel was taking part in the 50 freestyle (seeded 16th). Both controlled their nerves in the heats to swim PB times.
Hurst stepped on the blocks first in the unfancied, outside lane for her heat. She swam a controlled first 50m with a long, smooth stroke – turning with the leaders – and brought the race home well in storming fashion.
She hit the touch pads at the finish in a new best of 1:18.10 and made the final in equal third place – an excellent performance after some injury set-backs this season.
Nel was up a few minutes later for his heat of the 50m freestyle and was calmness personified. Seeded slowest in his age group, he had nothing to lose and executed a super race from the dive to the touch, finishing equal fifth in his heat.
With six swimmers from his age group in later heats, he faced a few nervous minutes’ wait to see if his first ever swim of sub-26 (25.96) was enough to make the final. In the event, tied with two others, he made the final in the 10th spot.
Given that neither Hurst or Nel were even competing at regional level in 2014, they have made, along with the rest of the club, huge strides over the last 18 months.
In the finals, both slowed fractionally, but both still went faster than they had ever done before the heats – with Abbie hitting 1:18.16 for sixth place and Chris tieing up in the last 5m to post 26.07 for 10th.
Elsewhere, Peter Lever was selected to go to the Maccabi European games in Berlin for GB and came away with four medals.
His 200m and 400m freestyle individual swims brought in bronze medals and he was part of the silver medal-winning 4x50 free relay team, while the 4 x 50 medley team secured the gold medal.