Berkhamsted’s green team were competing at Hitchin for the Promotion Gala while their silver team were in the Consolation Gala at Borehamwood in the final round of the Peanuts League.
The club were only able to put out a total of 37 swimmers across their two teams but the squads performed above and beyond what could have reasonably been expected and had a fantastic evening of competition.
The green team were led off by Eva Lawson in the 10-years freestyle and she smashed her personal best (PB) and club-best with a win in 15.50, nearly a second clear of anybody else. Likewise, Fionn Clare dropped his best by three seconds to clock 18.89.
Chrissie Soulsby claimed the team’s second win in three events with a 1/100th of a second win in the 11-years backstroke, improving her best by 0.5 seconds.
Abbie Briers swam an unaccustomed 50m breaststroke in the 12-years event, lowering her time to 47.84 and Hugh Clare hit a PB for the boys in 45.44.
There was a further win for Nell Coster in the nine-years freestyle with a PB (17.84).
For the 10-year girls, Issy Whitaker dropped her best by a second (18.78) to finish third and was followed by Emma Hockney picking up a victory in the 11-years 50m freestyle with 33.50, almost two seconds ahead of anybody else.
Sam Griffiths followed her in the boys’ event, improving nearly 3.5 seconds for fourth place in 39.37.
Lara Coster whittled down her 50m backstroke best by well over a second to finish second in 37.97.
The first set of relays brought further success with Whitaker leading off Tilly Anderton, Lawson and Phoebe Goss to win in the 10-years medley by two seconds.
In the 11-years category, Hockney teamed with 10-year-olds Goss and Anderton plus Soulsby to come home third, a placing repeated by the 12-years medley squad of Lara Coster, Soulsby, Lawson and Briers, as well as their male counterparts Ben Filer, Hugh Clare, Tom Holmes-Higgin and George Gray, in George’s first meet for the club.
Saya Khalili was third in the nine-years backstroke and then Lawson Gray – also in his first gala for the club – grabbed a win in the nine- years boys’ backstroke in a close race with a time of 22.00.
Tilly Anderton improved again to 22.93 in the 10-years 50m breaststroke for another third place result and Rocco Addati also hit a PB to post 23.22.
Soulsby pocketed her second individual win with 17.35 in the 11-years fly, almost a second ahead of the competition, and Sam Griffiths broke his previous best by well over a second (19.91) for yet another third place finish.
They were followed by Briers hitting yet another PB in a fantastic season for her, coming down to 31.81 in the 12-years 50m freestyle just losing out in a close finish, while Holmes-Higgin also ended in second place for the boys.
In the nine-years breaststroke Nell Farquhar – another first-timer – clocked 32.03 and Matthew Ginn 26.75, both in PB times.
Phoebe Goss got in on the PB act with 23.00 in the backstroke and the final individual win went to George Gray in the 11-years 50m breaststroke with a best time of 45.47 and clear water ahead of his rivals.
The final individual events were the 12-years 50m fly and another brace of thirds for Lara Coster and Tom Holmes-Higgin.
The second round of relays began with another third place for the 10-years freestyle relay girls and for Anderton, Soulsby, Lawson and Hockney in the 11-years medley.
In a hectic finale, the green squad took victory in the last event, the squadron relay, with Nell, Coster, Lawson, Eva Lawson, Rocco Addati, Emma Hockney, George Gray, Abbie Briers and Tom Holmes-Higgin bringing home the win.
For the silver team, the 15 swimmers all had multiple races, with many swimming up two or even three age groups – all faced with smiles.
Maisie Johnson and another first-timer, Luca Greene, kept up the third-place theme, as both set PB in the 10-years freestyle, touching in 20.08 and 19.36 respectively.
Connie Beddall chopped an amazing six seconds from her 50m backstroke best, swimming up as an 11-year-old, as did Ollie Miles for the boys, with times of 53.83 and 54.37 respectively.
Emily Jones was a reluctant 50m breaststroker but the decision proved right as she smashed her best by nearly 9.5 seconds (55.92). Jack Rutherfurd dropped 6.49 seconds in the same boys’ race (55.91).
Rachel Little’s first individual race for the team provided a PB of 23.42 in the nine-years freestyle and Miles overcame a goggle malfunction to hit a PB in the 10-years fly (27.14).
Amber Tooker went 1.72 seconds quicker than before in the 11-years freestyle (44.54) and Rutherfurd took his best down to 36.40 as he roared into second place for the boys.
Esme Weare went a whole second faster in the 50m backstroke and it was then into the first set of relays.
The nine-years girls’ freestyle brought the first win of the night, Charlotte Holmes-Higgin, Alan van Deventer, Little and Olivia Bridgeman triumphing by some six seconds. The 10-year girls’ freestyle team of Johnson, Charlotte Whittle, Jones and Mairi Lavin came home a valiant second, missing the win just in the last five metres.
Van Deventer shone when finishing third in the nine-years 50m backstroke, bringing her time down to 26.34, while Beddall set a PB in the 25m breaststroke (30.41).
Rutherfurd set another PB to show his improvement, clocking 20.87 in the 11-years fly, before Esme Weare finished third and shaved more than two seconds off her PB (42.67) in the 50m freestyle.
Holmes-Higgin was third in the nine-years breaststroke and there was another PB for Lavin in the 10-years backstroke (32.54), swum without goggles. Greene also set his best for the race and distance in 26.52 before Van DeVenter sliced 1.66 seconds from her best 50m breaststroke time, swimming up two age groups.
Jones then swam possibly her least favourite event, the 50m fly, but came home in a superb fourth place (48.49).
The nine-years girls’ relay team won their second race of the night in the medley, this time by more than eight seconds. Immediately after Beddall, Whittle, Lavin and Jones swam eight seconds faster than their nearest challengers to take the victory in the 10-years freestyle event.
The rest of the two squads comprised of Daniel Traynor, Ben Filer, Pierce Philbin, Eric Batt and Rishy Morjaria.
Head coach Geoff Wood said: “Both squads will be in Division Two next year but the future is strong with so much comradeship from those who competed.”