Harry, Adi, Emma and Issy win golds for Berko at Sprint event

Berkhamsted SC's Owen Strakosch, Mark Strakosch and Izzy Sansom at the Hillingdon Open Water swim event.
Berkhamsted SC's Owen Strakosch, Mark Strakosch and Izzy Sansom at the Hillingdon Open Water swim event.

It was another busy time for Berkhamsted’s swimmers last week with the Bishops Stortford Long Course and Hoddesdon Sprint meets as well as the Hillingdon Open Water Lake swim.

Vicky Ayles travelled to the Inspire pool in Luton fresh from her successes at the Terry Davies meet in Watford, swapping a 25m short-course (SC) pool for a long-course (LC) 50m version, and surpassed herself yet again.

She won her heat in all three events, starting with the 200m Individual Medley (IM). Showing how much her confidence has improved, she went 11 seconds faster than her SC best to post 2:58.68 and 7th overall for a terrific start.

Vicky followed this up with 11th in the 50m breast (44.29) which would have been a SC best and finished with 1:10.51 for the 100m free (13th) which would have been a 100m all-course best until the Terry Davies meet.

A further 15 swimmers went to Borehamwood for the Hoddesdon Summer Sprint meet in what turned out to be a very hot facility, spoiling many attempts for good times. But those there made the most of things.

The meet began with the 100 IM and nine-year-old Saya Khalili led off with 1:53.12 for her first legal IM and ninth place. Following her disqualification at Terry Davies, Eva Lawson smashed her best to claim second place in 1:27.04, some 10 seconds faster than before. She was followed by Chrissie Soulsby, Emma Hockney and Amelia Dewar in the 11-year-olds section and Soulsby came out on top (1:27.89) for victory with Hockney fourth (1:31.48) and Dewar improving to 1:35.99 in fifth.

The final swimmers in the 12-years group were Abigail Briers and Lydia Wisely.

Briers just won the club battle in 1:22.65 to Wisely’s 1:24.00 as they both posted personal best (PBs) and qualified for the skins (elimination) event in the evening.

In the girls’ 50m backstroke Khalili again had a first-time swim (55.37) before Anna and Kitti Cooper, in their first Open meet, picked up silver and bronze nine-years medals in 51.70 and 52.68 respectively.

Chrissie Soulsby, Hockney and Dewar resumed battle in the backstroke with Soulsby again just taking team honour with 40.13 for third, Hockney (40.36) in fourth and Dewar (41.45) fifth as all hit a PB.

Izzy Sansom claimed her own fifth place finish in the Open category (38.11), while for the boys Adi Cooper, racing for the first time in a while, improved to 36.71, for a win in the 13-years age group.

In the 100m fly, Lawson found another way to upset the judges and found herself disqualified as she learns the vagaries of racing and she was followed by Briers and Wisely duelling it out in the 12-years category, Briers pocketing the silver medal in 1:26.93 and Wisely the bronze.

Khalili was fifth in the girls’ 50m breast before Hockney collected a silver, as did Issy Soulsby, with Izzy Sansom in her final race placing fifth again.

For the boys’ side, Adi Cooper placed second with a PB (40.57) and Fionn Clare took sixth, chopping six seconds from his best (59.10).

In the 100m free Khalili picked up her first Open medal (1:44.08) for silver and Lawson put her DQ disappointment behind her to also pick up a silver (1:19.65).

Dewar reduced her best by nearly five seconds and Chrissie Soulsby by over seven to claim fifth and fourth while Hockney improved from her best, set only at Terry Davies, to take a worthy silver.

Briers and Wisely swam head-to-head again with Briers posting 1:11.71 for fourth and Wisely in eighth while Izzy Sansom took seventh and Issy Soulsby fourth, both just off their best times.

The boys finished off the first session with Cooper making it two golds with 1:06.09 improving just over two seconds for the win.

The second session began with Issy Soulsby being the club’s only representative in the 200 IM and she claiming a bronze to also make the skins.

In the 50m free there was more club success despite everyone showing signs of tiredness and Hockney won her first gold in 34.38.

Briers just pipped Wisely with 32.32 (second) to 33.67, and Issy Soulsby took home a gold in 30.24.

Harry and George Thorne joined the party in the afternoon for the 50m free, taking gold and fourth respectively and Harry missing his PB by just 0.15 seconds. George lowering his to 27.74.

In the 100m backstroke, Chrissie Soulsby was in contention throughout, eventually settling for a silver after slicing just over two seconds from her best.

In the boys, George Thorne made it a brace of silvers for as he cruised to 1:14.42.

Soulsby followed the backstroke with an easy win in the 50m fly, coming home almost four seconds ahead of her opposition.

Older sister Issy backed it up with another silver in 32.71.

Wisely narrowly got the better of Briers in their private battles, picking up fourth in 39.01 against Abigail’s fifth in 39.09.

For the boys, the brothers Thorne were close again with Harry just on top in 29.64 for gold and George just a second slower for bronze in 30.78. In the 100m breast Harry Thorne took silver in less than half a second off his PB (1:15.69).

The skins events allowed Wisely, Briers and Issy Soulsby to show their speed and endurance as the rounds swum every three minutes.

All three performed well, with Briers and Wisely in the junior event hopeful of good placings, especially with cash on the table for the overall winner and the swimmer who took each round.

Lydia was first to succumb, placing fourth, while Abigail claimed a round win in the backstroke, which surprised no-one more than herself, as she made it through the rounds to contest the final.

Nobody at poolside could split it so it was down to the electronic timing to show Abbie just nicked it on the touch to round off a fantastic day.

Issy Soulsby made her way through to the penultimate heat when, facing two national swimmers, she had to be content with a hard-fought third place.

Meanwhile, in the Hillingdon Open water swim, Owen Strakosch, Izzy Sansom and Mark Strakosch took on the 2km event. Up against a field of more than 60 swimmers, the massed start was a mad thrashing of arms and legs. The water was 24C so most went without a wet suit.

Fresh from their successes at recent river swims and relays, Owen went out fast while Mark was with a group of four Watford swimmers for the first kilometre, then started to pull back on what he thought was the front group.

But two young swimmers had gone out in front of this group and while he closed to within 14 seconds of Owen and overtook others he probably needed another 500m to catch him.

Izzy found the mad scramble at the start tough to deal with and had problems sighting one of the boys but once into her stroke made good progress through the field.

Owen was able to finish fourth, Mark only a place back in fifth and Izzy in 21st.