Berkhamsted SC debutants impress at Regionals

For the first time since 2019, the East Region were able to hold a full series of Long Course Championships over the last two weekends.

Monday, 9th May 2022, 2:05 pm
Berkhamsted SC members Kiera Wharton and Josie Reid pictured before their swims at the Regional Championships
Berkhamsted SC members Kiera Wharton and Josie Reid pictured before their swims at the Regional Championships

The Championships were staged at the University of East Anglia Pool in Norwich over the bank holiday and, last weekend, at Luton.

A small contingent of Berkhamsted SC swimmers had qualified to take part.

And, without exception, they swam exceptionally well especially as for three of them, this was a first experience of swimming at regional level.

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The first weekend in Norwich saw Kate Hopper begin the series with the 50m Freestyle.

Like many in the country she had not competed at this level before due to the restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which shut down the opportunity for competition for more than two years.

Understandably nervous on the blocks for the second heat, Hopper still managed to produce her usual electric start and powered up the pool to take second place in her heat.

Having been seeded third fastest for the heat, this was a terrific start to Hopper’s weekend.

She completed the swim in 29.04 and improved her personal best by over half a second, a huge amount in such a short race.

The swim moved her right up the rankings and proved to be faster than many in just about every heat that followed for 15 year old swimmers.

Her performance was good enough to eventually place her 11th in age and fastest Hertfordshire swimmer.

Next up for Hopper was the 200m Breaststroke, one of the toughest endurance races in the swimming programme.

Once again she stepped up to the task and improved her long course personal best almost a second and a half, posting a time of 3:07.29 for 15th and improving her seeding yet again.

For the final race of the Saturday, Hopper was in the 50m Breaststroke.

And, after yet another superb start and underwater phase, she was always in the mix in her heat where, seeded slowest, she came home in third place.

She had managed a third successive long course personal best to take 4/100ths off her previous time in 39.48 and 27th overall.

The Sunday morning saw Josie Reid join the party.

Like Hopper, this was Reid’s first appearance at a Regional Championships and, indeed, her first swim in a 50m pool.

Looking strong in the outside lane eight, she powered through the second length to move up to finish seventh in the heat, posting a time of 1:16.96.

Into the afternoon session and Hopper was back for her final swim, the 100m Freestyle event.

In the second heat, for the first time she was in a seeded lane and got off to a superb start, turning first at the halfway stage, just outside the 30-second mark as she really attacked the swim.

Up the second length she was in a fight with the swimmer in lane five and as they swam in hard to the pads she was just touched out by 0.2 seconds to finish second in 1:04.67 to complete a very pleasing first set of Regional swims.

On the Bank Holiday Monday, Reid was back for the 50m Fly and was joined by Kiera Wharton for the event.

Reid was off first of the two swimmers and, in a very closely contested race, touched home in sixth spot in her heat with 32.42 to set her first time for the long course 50m.

Wharton took to the blocks three heats later and, swimming in lane three, was ahead of the field at 15m following more superb underwater work.

With little to choose between most of the swimmers, she put her head down in the last five metres to touch in second place.

Wharton's effort exactly equalled her personal best from the same championships in 2019 of 31.19.

The final swimmer for the club was 12 year old Poppy Awdry who swam on Saturday and Sunday last weekend in the Junior Age Group competition held at Luton.

Once again, Awdry had never swum in a 50m pool before and began with her 50m Freestyle where she was seeded slowest of all entries.

Not withstanding this, she leapt off the blocks to lead the field as they broke out together.

She managed to retain the lead for the whole race to touch the pads in 33.40 and win her heat, improving some 10 places on her original seeding.

Her second event was on the Sunday - the 100m Freestyle.

And again, she went out hard, coming back well to clock 1:14.63 and she could be very pleased with her swims at this level for the first time of asking.

With the season now in full flow, the club revert to the youngest age groups for the coming months.

The Peanuts (9-12 years) League starts this Saturday (May 14) when the young swimmers will be competing at Hemel Hempstead pool.

Berkhamsted Swimming Club (BSC) was created by the merger of Berkhamsted Sports Centre Swimming Club (BSCSC) and Berkhamsted Barracudas in 2012.

The club has a long history of developing successful swimmers at local, county, regional and national levels.

This is achieved by developing the swimmer from an all-round perspective, providing them with not only focus, direction, commitment and support, but also providing them with life skills.BSC is best described as a family Club, with swimmers aged 8 years up to Masters level.

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