Berkhamsted’s young team steps up to the mark in Peanuts League opener

Berkhamsted SC's young squad at the Peanuts League season opener at Stevenage earlier this month.
Berkhamsted SC's young squad at the Peanuts League season opener at Stevenage earlier this month.

Berkhamsted Swimming Club’s young squad showed in the first round of the Peanuts League at Stevange the previous Saturday that no matter how many withdrawals they have to contend with, those who invariably step up always perform to their best.

They turned potential disaster into a superb second-place finish overall after a gala-long battle with Ware and Hemel which saw places exchanged right up to the last relays event.

Alana Van DeVenter and Austin Clements began the event in the 10-years freestyle (20.69 and 16.88 respectively), with Clements posting the club’s first personal best (PB) and event win of the night.

Seren Diehl and William Barnes picked up a brace of second-place finishes in the 11-years backstroke (41.58 and 46.33) as Seren dropped her PB by over one-and-a-quarter seconds.

Eze Shichla-Fekete and Chrissie Soulsby pocketed a pair of third-place results in the 12-years 50m breaststroke (49.28 and 46.20), as Eze’s times continue to fall every race, this time by more than 2.5 seconds.

Club first-timers Lucy Franklin and Jack Barratt posted first-time swims in the nine-years 25m freestyle of 26.88 and 23.44, with Barratt ending up in third.

In the 10-years fly, Lawson Gray picked up the club’s second win of the night in a PB 18.16 after Saya Khalili managed fourth for the girls in 22.36.

Emily Jones (37.12) and Darshan McGregor (38.89) both smashed their PBs in the 11-years 50m freestyle, McGregor going inside the 40-second barrier for the first time in second place.

Amber Tooker (52.71) dropped more than six seconds in her backstroke and Eric Batt put previous-turn troubles behind him to win his race in 38.73.

Zoe Majed, Bea Miller, Franklin and Bella Cliffe finished third in the first of the relays, the 4 x 25m freestyle for nine-year-olds.

Khalili (PB on lead off), Seren Majed, Jess Cutler and Van DeVenter were the 10-years girls’ medley squad and then the boys’ team of William Franklin, Clements, Gray and Ollie Brandwood joined forces to take third spot in their medley in 1:26.18.

The 11-year-old girls set their first relay club-best of the night in the freestyle with Diehl, Jones, Issy Whitaker and Eva Lawson romping to victory in 1:05.06 and they were followed by the boys of Rocco Adatti, Barnes, McGregor and Joe Harrison claiming a super second-place finish in 1:09.82.

Tooker, setting a backstroke PB leading off, Kate Hopper, Soulsby and Emma Hockney were fourth in their medley, before Batt improved his backstroke time ahead of Svichla-Fekete, Ronan Philbin and Andrew Corner, on the anchor leg, bringing the boys home in third place.

The second set of individuals began with Bea Miller and William Franklin in the nine-year-old freestyle races. Miller clocked 27.07 and Franklin 24.16 to come home in second for the boys.

Seren Majed (23.52) took another club victory in the 10-years breaststroke and late call-up Ollie Brandwood posted 25.16 for second spot in his first Peanuts race.

Lawson then set her own 25m fly PB and lowered the club 11-years record to 16.16 to win the race, while Joe Harrison improved by more than two seconds to 20.06.

Emma Hockney’s 32.28 was enough to hit the pads in second place for the 12-years freestyle, then 11-year-old Andrew Corner, swimming up, improved to 39.39.

Bella Cliffe (26.29) was third in her 25m breaststroke, before another first-timer, Jack Barratt, was impressive to finish fourth in his breaststroke in 32.90.

Jess Cutler’s backstroke time of 21.12 saw her knock her best time down by four seconds in the 10-years event, with Lawson Gray taking the win for the boys in a PB time of 21.52.

Whitaker is chopping chunks off her times every swim at the moment and strolled home in the 11-years 50m breaststroke, lowering her time by nearly four seconds to clock 45.30 for the win, with Rocco Adatti in third for the boys.

Kate Hopper tackled the 50m fly for the girls and Ronan Philbin finished in 40.59.

With matters still close and the club sitting in third place, the final relays were to decide the overall picture.

The nine-years girls made in two third-place finishes in their relays with an overall time of 1:53.76 in the medley.

Cutler, Khalili, VanDeVenter and Seren Majed put their earlier medley relay disqualification behind them to come home in a solid second place in the freestyle relay in 1:14.95, while the boys finished in third place again in a time of 1:16.91, with Barratt replacing Franklin from the nine-years boys, swimming up.

Whitaker, Lawson, Jones and Diehl had to settle for second in their medley but still had enough to take the club record down by more than a second to 1:15.66, including a PB on the lead-off leg for Whitaker.

The boys’ 11-years squad came home in fourth and in the final age-group relays, the four girls (Soulsby, Tooker, Hopper and Hockney) came home in third, while the boys won their event in 1:05.27.

With final positions still in doubt ahead of the squadron race, Zoe Majed, William Franklin, Seren Majed, Clements, Lawson, Harrison, Hockney and Svichla-Fekete settled matters with a convincing win in 2:17.46 to place the club in second place overall on the night.

The next Peanuts League round takes place on Saturday, June 8, and Berkhamsted SC head coach Geoff Wood said the team are already looking forward to the rest of the season.