It has been a competition-filled month for Berkhamsted Swimming Club – with some excellent results showing just how far the club has come since its inception two years ago.
Beginning with the Tape Trophy gala at Furzefield, a mixed although mainly novice squad competed at a Peanuts trial gala run by Potters Bar.
Swimmers of the night were Elliss MacNab and Tom Holmes-Higgin who showed the others how things should be done.
MacNab romped home in the 10 years fly, chopping over two seconds from her PB, before she led an all-conquering relay team including Molly Light, Martha Irons and Clemmie Holmes to both medley and freestyle relay victory.
Tamsin Moren claimed the 9 years breaststroke, before Light and Ollie Benton made a clean sweep of the 10 years back.
Finn Ferguson, Evie Watson, Alec Clarke, Roisin Clarke and Sophie Eastham all swam PBs, as did MacNab and James Boylan in the fly. Moren and Conall Clarke went PB in the breast.
An intensely exciting final squadron relay saw the club lead until the last 5m, eventually finishing second and claiming a brave third place overall on the night.
The remainder of the squad comprised: Ollie Turner, Meme Hancock, Jamie Bailey, Elise Ansell, Alex Farnham, Erin Pemberton, Jacob D’Cunha, Emma Walker, Zoe Kenney, James Nangle, Danny Hoyes, Caitlin Kelley, Lauren Collingwood, Ben Holmes-Higgin, Euan & Marcus Donald and Alex Davis.
Elsewhere, Mark Strakosch and his son Tom dominated at the Newmarket masters meet - coming away with five golds, a silver and two bronze between them.
Tom was swimming his first masters meet and was delighted to carve three seconds from his 100m breaststroke in his last race to pinch the gold having earlier claimed gold in his 100 back and bronze in the 100 free.
Mark started with a gold and one-second pb in the 100m free, following it up with gold in the 100 back (PB) and 100 free, while also managing to steal in with bronze in the 100 breast.
Meanwhile, with just weeks to go before Regional Championships, Ollie Hurst, Jordan Northwood, Abbie Hurst, Tom Weston, Ellen Northwood, James Corner, Amy Pemberton, Louis Armitage, George Thorne, Izzy Sansom, James Chennells, Chris Nel, Zak Patel and Ish Rahim went to the Inspire Complex in Luton for Long Course practice.
Armitage went PB in his 200 breast, 200 IM, 100 free and 50 fly, while Thorne claimed his first ever Regional QT in the 50 free, competing directly against Corner in adjacent lanes.
Weston set PBs in all four races he competed in: 50 and 100 back, 100 free and 50 fly.
Chennells destroyed his all course PB in the 200 fly for RQT to rectify a poor swim at County Championships, and also went faster in both the 100 back and 100 free.
Corner worked on his stroke length when setting a 200m free PB, which included a new PB at 100m as wel,l and improved his 50 free time in the individual event.
Abbie Hurst moved to the top of the East region long course 50 breaststroke rankings when winning the event and then claimed silver in the 100 breaststroke as well.
Brother Ollie put himself in his age group mix for Regionals with a PB in the 50 breast, before Nel claimed bronze in the 50 free as well as improving his 50 and 100 back best times, along with his 100 free.
Ellen Northwood’s best event of the meet was a flowing 50 fly where she chopped almost 1.5 seconds from her best.
Brother Jordan was on fire with new personal figures in the 400 free, 200 free and 100 breast where he sliced an amazing six seconds off the previous best time.
Patel, Pemberton, Rahim and Sansom were competing long course in BSC colours for the first time and did so with distinction.
Finally, the first round of Regional Championships was also held at Luton and six swimmers competed for the club out of their eight qualifiers.
Ollie Hurst managed a hat-trick of finals in the breaststroke events just 12 months after making his first ever RQT in 2014.
In the 100m race he set a new PB to make the final and ended seventh. The 200 breast heat was a revelation for Hurst as he sliced three seconds from his best for a new club best to make the final in seventh.
The final itself saw him improve a place to finish in sixth and then, later in the day, he made the 50 final as well in a new PB, placing eighth in the final itself.
Yazii Brand was the sole female representative making the final of the 200 fly and swimming her second fastest times ever, as she comes back to form in the 100 fly and 400 IM.
Chris Nel showed his Luton qualifying meet form was no fluke, coming back after three weeks of illness to place 16th in the 50 back for his first event.
He claimed heat victory in the 50 free to make yet another final for the club as he equalled his PB. In the final he placed seventh with another good swim.
On the Monday he swam close to his best in the 100 back before producing the swim of the meet for BSC. In the 50 fly he stormed off the block and managed third in his heat as he posted an all course PB of 28.99s with an almost perfect execution of his race plan.
Jack Filer was a first timer at Regionals at the age of 17 and delighted coach and himself with a 32.83s for fifth in his heat, from slowest seed which converts to a short course PB.
Jordan Northwood was the busiest swimmer, despite having to pull out of two longer events following severe ear infection.
He swam the 100 fly in his second fastest ever time and was then delighted to improve his 100 free, going sub-60 long course for the first time with 58.99s.
His longer races, the 200 IM and 200 free, saw him clock a two-second PB in the IM and equal his PB in the free to complete a first rate weekend.
Weston swam the 50 Back, just outside his long course pb.
The four boys - Weston, Hurst, Northwood and Nel - were the first relay squad ever for the club at Regionals and performed well in their heat to place fourth. Hurst, Northwood and Nel showed their form by all swimming quicker than their individual results.
Overall, it was the best Regional Championships for the club since their formation and proved they can compete at the highest levels.
With the Peanuts League first round coming up next week, followed by the second weekend of Regional Championship, held at UEA Norwich over the next Bank Holiday weekend it is a busy period for the club as the continue to prove to be on the up.