FULL REPORT: A busy weekend for Berkhamsted SC sees PBs and medals aplenty

Berkhamsted SC members at the Harpenden Legacy meet at the weekend.
Berkhamsted SC members at the Harpenden Legacy meet at the weekend.

Berkhamsted Swimming Club had another packed weekend with many of their swimmers competing in two meets inside the county while another was representing the county in Sheffield in high-level competition.

An abridged version of this report featured in this week’s Hemel Gazette newspaper. The full report is below.

With thanks to Berkhamsted SC head coach Geoff Wood for the full report.

The weekend began with the Harpenden Legacy meet at the ten-lane 25m pool at Westminster Lodge in St Albans.

The undoubted performer of day one was Millie Harrison with six personal bests (PBs) from seven swims but the Saturday sessions began with the boys’ 400 individual medley (IM) where Alex Kalverboer, swimming the event for the first time, clocked 6:10.97 for second place in his heat and a bronze medal in the 12-years category in what was a County Consideration Time (CCT).

Owen Strakosch and Dan Chennells fought an intra-club battle on opposite sides of the pool in the same heat, with Chennells coming out on top in 5:21.35 (over 90 seconds PB and a CCT) for bronze in his age group, with Strakosch’s 5:42.330 good enough for gold in his age group.

Harrison then began her PB haul with 1:38.76 in her 100m backstroke, joined by Ciara McKenna who took bronze in the 16-plus category. Charlotte Whittle clocked 1:573.89 in her first Open meet and first-ever swim in the event, and Izzy Sansom took silver in the 16-plus as well.

Another first-time Open meet swimmer, Ezi Svichla-Fekete, sliced 23 seconds from his 100m breaststroke PB in 1:54.30 and Kalverboer popped out another CCT and PB for a silver medal in his age group with a time of 1:31.24.

Harrison’s second successive PB came in the 200m IM when she improved just over three seconds to 3:28.91.

In the boys’ 100m fly, Kalverboer looked fatigued towards the end of his race, posting 1:31.08, while Strakosch (gold), Harrison Bullock (silver) and Callum Bullock (bronze) dominated the Open category.

McKenna took fourth in her 100m freestyle, Whittle clocked 1:48.09 in yet another first-time swim, and Harrison lopped off eight seconds to post 1:21.63, before Sansom took third place in the Open category again. Emma Hockney, with a superbly smooth swim, finished third in her heat and age group, recording her first-ever CCT in 1:13.77, improving some four seconds from her previous best.

Svichla-Fekete chopped another 4.5 seconds from his 50m breaststroke best as he grew in confidence with 55.19, Pierce Philbin improved two seconds (51.87) after a wobbly start and brother Ronan sliced four seconds off in 48.64.

Kalverboer looked reinvigorated to record another CCT (42.79) and Chennells (second, 36.58 PB), Callum Bullock (third, 38.89) and Harrison Bullock (fifth, 40.72 PB) completed the first session of the meet.

Session two started with the 400m freestyle for the boys and both Kalverboer and Strakosch smashed their best times. Kalverboer popped out another CCT in 5:29.53 for sixth place overall, while Strakosch got his first CCT of the year in 4:38.25. The pair knocked off a combined 57 seconds from their previous best efforts.

McKenna was delighted to pick-up another bronze in the girls’ 100m IM, Whittle set another first-time marker in 1:59.71 and Harrison’s 1:40.11 was also another PB. Hockney’s swim was a little off her best but much better technically, before Lydia Wisely clipped 0.8 from her PB with 1:23.15 for fourth place, behind Tamsin Moren’s silver medal CCT of 1:17.01.

Callum Bullock chipped away at his 200m backstroke time, notching 2:31.92 for silver, with Strakosch just off his best after the 400m freestyle effort, in fourth.

Whittle’s good day continued with a first effort at the 200m freestyle, clocking 3:54.86. Harrison dipped below three minutes for the first time in 2:58.29, before a smooth swim from Hockney brought her a bronze medal. Sansom took gold in the Open age category.

In the 50m fly, Svichla-Fekete completed a first-time swim in 55.48 and Ronan Philbin collected an age group-silver in a new PB of 43.95. The older boys showed the effects of accumulated fatigue and it was left to Dan Chennells to collect the only medal, with a bronze, just 0.1 seconds off his best.

Whittle went 5:10.10 for her 200m breaststroke and Harrison completed her final PB of the day in 3:37.24, while Moren was the class of the field with 3:05.91 winning by nearly 30 metres in her heat.

The boys’ 50m freestyle saw Svichla-Fekete drop 1.2 seconds to 40.79 but that proved the only PB for the boys.

The day ended with another PB for Whittle, this time in the 50m backstroke (54.73), again, the only PB among the girls.

Meanwhile, day one at the Hemel Borthday meet saw six swimmers competing.

In the 200m freestyle, Luca Greene’s first Open meet swim saw her post 3:41.93 for sixth and, likewise, James Bellamy’s first effort was a 3:58.10 time. Cam MacDonald clocked 2:18.86 to earn a silver medal.

Two more first-time Open swimmers for the girls, Connie Beddall and Ruby Liddle, recorded 48.78 and 36.44 respectively, to set two new PBs in the 50m freestyle.

Luca Greene repeated his 200 freestyle PB exploits in the 50m backstroke, dropping inside the minute barrier for the first time in 58.48. Bellamy scraped inside his best with 49.348 while MacDonald collected another silver in 32.08, also a PB.

Bellamy swam the 100m breaststroke for the first time and placed sixth in 2:03.23 and Liddle’s first 100m backstroke swim saw a time of 1:44.97 recorded.

In the 200m freestyle, Beddall looked strong all the way to touch under four minutes in 3:57.12 (seventh) and then MacDonald improved again on his 50m freestyle time, hitting 28.63.

Rachel Little’s one swim of the day was the 50m backstroke and she slid inside the minute with 57.88 (PB) for sixth while Beddall, understandably tired after her freestyle efforts earlier, slowed a fraction to 56.76. Chrissie Soulsby recorded 39.82 for her backstroke and 1:40.63 for her 100m breaststroke at the end of the day one.

Day two at Harpenden began with Abbie Briers taking on the 400m IM for the first time and she came home in a very respectable 6:29.15, but firmly believing she could have gone faster with a bit more experience. Tamsin Moren then stepped up to take bronze in the event, dropping some 18 seconds, to come home in 6:07.36 and another CCT to add to her growing tally.

In the 100m backstroke Kalverboer was fourth (1:16.57 PB, CCT), Harrison Bullock fifth, Dan Chennells fourth (108.15 PB, CCT), Callum Bullock third and George Thorne 7seventh (1:10.84 PB).

The 200m IM saw Kalverboer net another CCT and a bronze medal in a four-second PB of 2:51.54, while Chennells dropped his best by a second to 2:29.83 for silver. Harrison Bullock picked up bronze with Thorne taking fifth.

Wisely managed to win a bronze in her 100m fly and a gold in her 50m fly, while in the 100m freestyle Kalverboer set another PB and CCT (1:11.10), Callum Bullock was fifth, Thorne sixth and Chennells third, all just a shade outside their PB times.

For the girls, Moren improved her CCT in the 50m breaststroke to 39.12 and Hockney posted 47.74.

Rising star Eva Lawson clocked a 5:37-dead for the 400m freestyle, which was a County Qualifying Time (CQT), alongside a gold medal, and Abbie Briers was just three seconds shy of her own CCT in 5:29, when taking an age-group bronze.

Later, George Thorne pocketed bronze in the 100m IM (1:09.98 PB) with the Bullock brothers claiming fourth and fifth in the Open category.

Kalverboer won another bronze in the 200m freestyle, albeit just outside his entry time, and Chennells took silver in the same event, posting a new PB of 2:07.36.

Lawson claimed 50m fly silver, with Wisely setting the gold medal time of 35.26 (PB), and Ciara McKenna popped out a fourth-place finish in a new fly PB of 1:17.71.

In the 50m Free Hockney won gold in yet another pb of 32.13 with McKenna lowering her rcent pb yet again to 51.62

The final event, the boys’ 50 backstroke saw gold go to Callum Bullock, just 5/100ths outside his PB in 31.95. Brother Harrison came home in the bronze medal position.

The boys made it four medals from four swims in the 50 backstroke, with Dan Chennells second (31.23) and George Thorne third (32.47) in their age group as well.

Across at Hemel on day two, just three Berkhamsted swimmers competed in the first of the day’s sessions.

Newcomers Lawson and George Gray went home with plenty to smile about. George managed to claim gold in the 100m IM with 1:31.30, while younger brother Lawson took bronze in a first-ever CCT of 43.74 for the 50m fly and silver in his own 100m IM with 1:39.29.

Rachel Little finished her 50m breaststroke some two seconds faster than she had managed before.

In the final session, the boys were joined by Greene, Chrissie and Issy Soulsby, and Nell and Lara Coster.

Soulsby started with a 3:33.65 time for the 200m breaststroke for sixth place before, in the 50m fly, she picked up a bronze in a PB of 38.53, just behind silver medallist Lara Coster, whose time of 36.90 was both a PB and a CCT for the 2019 Counties.

Younger sister Nell dropped under 50 seconds for the first time with a new PB of 49.63, while Issy Soulsby sneaked in to the silver medal position with a 31.52 PB, which also allows her to enter the event at the regional Winter Championships in Luton this November.

In the 50m breaststroke, Greene lowered his best by three seconds (1:03.32), Lawson Gray posted 51.60 for fourth and another CCT, and George Gray added a silver to his earlier gold with 43.55, both brothers winning their heats convincingly, and his time was his first-ever CCT.

In the 100m IM Nell Coster finished seventh with 1:46.26.

Christina Soulsby and Lara Coster renewed their private battle, with Coster again just coming out on top to place fourth and third respectively, in 1:27.26 and 1:25.57, before Issy Soulsby picked up another bronze in a PB time of 1:12.27.

The final event was the boys’ 100m freestyle and each of the boys was swimming the event for the first time setting benchmark figures. Greene clocked 1:41.79, Lawson Gray (fourth) 1:23.30 and George Gray gained another medal with silver in 1:18.77 to complete a great two days of competition.

Finally, Berkhamsted SC’s Zac Patel travelled to Sheffield as part of the Herts County squad for the national Inter-County Competition, where the team finished seventh in their division.