Lawson claims a clean sweep of medals and PB times in the first Open Meet of the new season for Berkhamsted

Some of the Berkhamsted SC youngsters at Hoodesdon.
Some of the Berkhamsted SC youngsters at Hoodesdon.

The 2018/19 Open Meet season started with a bang for Berkhamsted SC’s 26 swimmers at the Hoddesdon Novice Gala

It started with Lydia Wisely some 5 seconds outside her 200 IM PB but still placing 5th and Abbie Briers mistaking the false start rope for the 5m flags, rolling onto her front too early, resulting in a DQ but both responded well.

Eric Batt (3:09.44 PB), Ronan and Pierce Philbin (2:54.58, 3:06.88, both PBs) and Alex Kalverboer (2:34.62 PB) put the meet back on track in the 200m freestyle.

In the 50 free there were PBs for first-time Open Meet swimmers Heidi Batchelor-Hannaby, Rachel Little, Ciara McKenna, Olivia Bridgeman, Bella Walker, Isabella Kalverboer and Lauren Farnham, with Bridgeman inside 50 seconds for the first time. Lucy Bevan, in her second meet, dropped inside 40 seconds and Phoebe Goss smashed her own sub-40 (39.05) to win her heat and a spot prize.

Eva Lawson picked up the first medal with a gold in the 10 years age group, improving to 32.94, while Briers banished her IM demons to claim bronze (32.25) and Izzy Sansom and Wisely were just outside their bests.

In the boys’ 50 fly Pierce Philbin would have set a PB but for a fractionally early start causing a DQ, brother Ronan clocked 44.65 and Kalverboer 38.80. The swim of the event came from James Bevan, in his second meet, who dropped over 3 seconds (38.75) to be fastest BLC male.

In the girls’ 100m back Issy Whitaker picked up a medal in her first event of her first meet as she shone (1:30.22) to take 10-years gold, while Sansom claimed Open bronze (1:21.05).

Bevan improved again in the boys’ 100m breast, lowering his best by 8 seconds (1:37.85), Batt improved 17 seconds (1:46.81) and Kalverboer came home quickest for the club (1:32.69), just off his best.

The girls’ 50m breast saw Bridgeman, McKenna and Batchelor-Hannaby fall foul of swimming laws but Little took 2nd in her heat as she lopped off 8 seconds from her best , Kalverboer was also 2nd in her heat with a PB 1:01.26 and Goss improved nearly 5 seconds (53.83). Farnham was delighted to hit 55.41 (PB) and Bevan made it two PBs from two, finishing just outside the 50s barrier but over 3 seconds quicker than before in 50.61.

Lawson took another gold in possibly her weakest stroke as she smashed out another heat win in the 10-years (47.51).

Alex Kalverboer was 5th in the male 50m back, and then the girls took on the 100m free. Batchelor-Hannaby (1:57.40), Kalverboer (1:42.95), Bevan (1:33.28), Goss (1:33.63), Ellie Pitcher, a first-time open meet entrant (1:35.15), and Walker (1:48.65) all set baseline PBs. McKenna looked tired at the end of the four lengths, just outside her PB (2:02.60) before Lawson got her third gold and PB in the 10-years, improving some 4 seconds on her best (1:13.69).Wisely and Sansom then recorded 1:15.58 and 1:12.34.

In the 100m boys’ IM Ronan Philbin posted 1:34.61 and Bevan improved a second to 1:33.01 for 5th in his age group.

In the girls’ 200m free Lawson stormed off from the start, turning at halfway in 1:15.53, extending her lead to almost 15m at 150m but stopped, having miscounted the lengths. Stationary for over 4 seconds, she heard officials and coaches urging her to continue and she posted 2:39.58, still managing to win the age group by over 15 seconds.

Briers and Sansom both posted 2:36 in the 200m free.

Open meet newcomers Ed Eastaff, Ben Hanbidge, Austin Clements and Riley Milne were next. Their first event was the 50m free and all improved. Eastaff knocked off 10 seconds (52.40), Hanbidge some 3 seconds (52.07), Clements another 2 seconds (44.98) and Milne (41.74), improving just over half a second.

Experienced hand Tom Stoker recorded a heat win in 32.81 and picked up an age group bronze medal.

In the girls’ 50m back, Izzy Sansom took gold alongside Ciara’s bronze, and in the 200m IM, Abigail Briers picked up a silver.

In the girls’ 50m fly, Whitaker hit a 4th-placed 43.01 for an inaugural base time. McKenna clocked 1:30.84 for 7th, Pitcher 51.94 (PB) and then, once more, Lawson triumphed (38.69), just off her best time but more than enough for another gold.

Stoker showed good form in collecting a second bronze (1:34.22) in the 100m back and then the girls were back for the 100m breast. Pitcher went just outside 2 minutes for her first attempt at this.

In the boys’ 50m breast, Eastaff sliced off 5 seconds (1:08.69, 8th) and Clements was 7th (1:00.71). Stoker claimed a PB to finish second in his heat (47.65).

Batchelor-Hannaby clocked 1:04.16 in her first try in the 50m back, as did Little (8th), just missing the one-minute barrier (1:00.01).

The biggest cheer of the meet came for McKenna, who has Down-Syndrome, after she took a bronze in the Open age group, much to her delight. Bridgeman improved by more than 3 seconds (53.44) and Farnham won her heat in 51.34.

In the boys, Stoker improved again in his 100m free, going inside 1:20 for the first time for 7th in 1:19.12, then it was down to the final event of the meet, the girls’ 100 IM.

Pitcher posted 1:49.54 in another first-time effort, Wisely and Briers hit 1:27 and 1:25, and Lawson claimed a clean sweep of gold medals and PBs, taking her age group in a stunning 1:26.42.