Berkhamsted swimmers show they have strength in depth

Berkhamsted SC's Peanuts team at the recent round two league meeting at Hitchin.
Berkhamsted SC's Peanuts team at the recent round two league meeting at Hitchin.

The whole gamut of Berkhamsted Swimming Club’s competitive nature was run over the weekend.

The two Junior (Peanuts) teams were at Hitchin Swim Centre for round two of the league and 46 swimmers enjoyed a super night of racing despite being under strength – only six boys were available for the silver team.

Meanwhile Tracy Van Deventer and Mark Strakosch travelled to Plymouth for the British Masters Long Course (LC) Championships in a 50m pool, while Izzy Sansom, Harrison Bullock, Callum Bullock and James Pope took part in the Jubilee Swim 2018 as a relay team.

For the Peanuts squads it was a tough night with many swimmers competing for the first time. This was evidenced in the first event where Connie Beddall swam her first competitive race in the 10 years freestyle, posting 20.96 and chasing home Phoebe Goss (18.70) for 3rd and 4th places respectively. For the boys it was Andrew Corner and Ollie Miles, both with PBs, with Corner just edging the intra-club battle in 20.21 and 20.38

Ten-year-old Lauren Farnham stepped up to fill a late gap in the 11 years’ 50m backstroke and sliced over 4 seconds from her best (51.09) behind Sophie Percival. Dylan Kiddle was just outside his best in 4th (47.13).

Alex Kalverboer claimed 2nd place in the boys’ 12 years breaststroke before Jess Cutler took 3rd in the girls’ 9 years free, followed by 2nd for Henry Eyles for the boys.

Both Orla Taylor and Issy Whittaker set PBs in the 10 years’ 50 fly (19.81, 20.56) with Issy claiming 2nd before Dan Traynor lowered his best in the boys to post 24.80.

There was another 2nd place with Emma Hockney setting a PB (34.04) in the girls’ 11 years 50 free, with Lauren Farnham up again to swim another PB (44.36), while Ezi Svichla-Fekete made it three PBs in the 50 free, hitting 42.90.

In the 12 years’ backstroke Lara Coster lowered her best to pick up another 2nd (39.29) before the first batch of relays.

The club’s first win of the night went to the 9 years girls’ 4x25m free relay with Nell Coster (despite an injured arm), linking with Charlotte Holmes-Higgin, Tilda Richards and Cutler for a clear win, while Alana Van Deventer, Olivia Bridgeman, first-timer Rachel Little and Saya Khalili came 3rd. The boys’ 9 years’ team (Eyles, Austin Clements, Ben Hanbidge and Matthew Ginn ) picked up 2nd, led off by Ginn who set a 25m free PB with 19.94.

There was a 3rd place for the 10 years’ girls’ medley squad of Saff Harding, Lara Connell, Whitaker and Goss and the boys’ 10 years’ squad of Corner, William Barnes, Fionn Clare and Joe Harrison. Corner led off in a PB time.

Two more 3rd places came the way of the 11 years’ free squads of Chrissy Soulsby (lead-off PB), Sophie Percival, Harding and Hockney; plus Kiddle (lead-off pb), Svichla-Fekete, Sam Griffiths and Ronan Philbin. The silver team girls’ Beddall led off in a PB.

The 12 years’ medley team of Lara Coster, Alex Farnham, Lydia Wisely and a fighting anchor leg from Abbie Briers, nearly pulled off a win, just being touched out on the final stroke. For the silver team of Esme Weare, Imogen Crowther, Bella Hinch and Lauren Farnham there was a lead-off PB on backstroke for Weare. The green boys’ squad of Ben Filer, Hugh Clare, Tom Holmes-Higgin and Jack Eyles took 3rd while James Bellamy hit a lead-off PB for the silver squad, ahead of Alex Kalverboer, Pierce Philbin and Marcus Donald.

In the 9 years’ backstroke, Charlotte Holmes-Higgin (3rd) just pipped Khalili (4th) in a close race where just 0.2 seconds separated them. Ben Hanbidge dropped his best to 25.88 to claim 4th place.

Lara Connell just missed winning the 10 years’ breaststroke for 2nd with Izzie Davies setting a PB in the same race, as did Fionn Clare in the boys.

The club finally claimed a win through Soulsby in the 11 years’ butterfly as she really flew down the length to a clear win, knocking almost a second off her best (17.48). For the boys Ronan Philbin came 2nd in 19.38.

The second victory went to Briers whose fighting qualities were to the fore as, with a perfect finished, she took the win on the touch in the 12 years’ 50 free, clocking 31.96 ahead of Hinch, who set a PB for 3rd (35.47), followed by Jack Eyles in 3rd (PB 35.34 ).

Both Tilda Richards and Alana Van Deventer hit PBs in the 9 years’ breast, with Richards just edging it for 3rd (28.03) against 4th for Alana who improved over 4 seconds.

Willaim Barnes and Traynor both set PBs (22.33, 26.33) for the 10 years’ backstroke before Soulsby took her second win in the 11 years’ breaststroke with nine-year -old Khalili stepping up two age bands to post a near 7-second improvement (53.31).

The final individual win went to the 12-year girls’ team as Alex Farnham, after a few weeks of illness, made the victory in the 50m fly look effortless in 37.62, followed by Holmes-Higgin for the boys, claiming 2nd place.

The 9-year girls’ relay team of Coster (lead-off PB), Holmes-Higgin, Richards and Cutler made it a clean sweep of wins in the relays on the night in the medley.

Khalili, Little, Van Deventer and Bridgeman made it a brace of 3rds, followed by another 3rd for Clements, Hanbidge, Henry Eyles and Ginn.

Connell (lead-off PB), Whitaker, Harding and Goss improved their relay place to 2nd in the 10-years free with Davies, Taylor, Bridgeman and Charlotte Whittle finishing 5th.

Harrison, Barnes, Fionn Clare and Corner came home 3rd in the free, as did Percival (lead-off PB), Connell, Soulsby and Hockney in the 11-years medley relay, and Svichla-Fekete (lead-off PB) , Griffiths, Kiddle & Ronan Philbin for the 11-years boys.

The 12-years girls’ squad is possibly the stand-out team for the club at the moment and Lara Coster, Alex Farnham, Wisely and Briers took their free relay win in fine style.

The squadron relays were, as ever, the noisiest as all the clubs cheered home their teams.

The green team came in 2nd while the silver team were 7th.

Both squads showed excellent commitment and team spirit.

The final key team swimmers were Pierce Philbin, Ollie Miles and Amber Tooker.

In the British Masters, Mark Strakosch began the meet with a lifetime best and bronze medal in the 800m freestyle, which lowered his regional age group record by over two-and-a-half seconds as he continues to improve.

He collected another bronze in the 1500m, finished 6th in the 200m backstroke, just a second outside his PB, and 5th in the 400 free (5:12.18) in his second fastest time.

In his 200 free a slow third quarter left him 2 seconds shy of his best (2:29.28) for 5th.

Tracy Van Deventer has returned to competitive swimming with a vengeance over the last few years and is showing what can be achieved by dedication. She began by smashing her 50 fly PB by 2 seconds (35.65) then took another big chunk from her 200 IM in 2:53.10.

The PBs continued as she knocked off 6 seconds in the 100m free (1:10.87) for 9th overall in a competitive field

In the 400 IM, her strength across all four strokes showed, as, after a deliberately conservative fly leg in 6th place, she moved through the field to place 3rd (6:07.30) for a superb bronze medal.

In the 200m free she cut 6 seconds off her best (2:34.90) for 5th.

The final event of the meet for both was the 1500m free – they were both starting to get a bit weary.

Tracy, up first, after a race-long struggle to hold the swimmer inside her, eventually touched home just outside her best (21:04.39) for silver.

Mark managed to swim the second-half faster than the first to post 20:19.89 and claim a bronze medal.

Meanwhile, on the open water, Izzy Sansom, Callum and Harrison Bullock joined forces with James Pope, of Watford to, swim in the Jubilee River 2018 event as a 10k relay swim and thoroughly enjoyed themselves with some stand-out distance swimming.

The race involved four legs and a handover on dry land.

Callum started the ball rolling with 1.9km in 25:44.10 placing the team 10th.

Harrison took over on the longest leg of 3.5km and came home in 56:55.40 placing him 20th fastest in the mixed team relay for the leg.

James took over and after a storming 2.6km in 33.29.70, placed himself as the 2nd fastest mixed team swimmer.

This left Izzy to bring things home with a 1.5km leg of 21:13.50 – sixth fastest in the mixed relay classification for the leg – and a total time of two hours 17 minutes 22.90 seconds.

Out of 425 total entrants across all the categories, they finished as the eighth Mmxed team and 27th overall, a fantastic achievement which made all of the work they have been doing recently at a local outdoor lake worthwhile.