Berko swimmers produce great displays at counties

The final weekend of individual events in the Herts County Swimming Championships produced a further two days of excitement and fast swimming from Berkhamsted SC athletes.
Some of Berkhamsted's swimmers after one of the weekend sessions.Some of Berkhamsted's swimmers after one of the weekend sessions.
Some of Berkhamsted's swimmers after one of the weekend sessions.

Saturday began with the Girls’ 50m Freestyle and saw Emily Besent make yet another final with a personal best of 35.57. There were also finals for Lily Welbourn, who dipped inside 30 seconds for the first time to win her heat in 29.66 and qualify fifth, Poppy Awdry and Nell Coster. In addition, Caitie Walters was delighted to be back sub 30 again.

In their respective finals, the girls all showed how they have improved by dropping time again and moving up the leaderboard. Besent went 34.75 to place fourth. Awdry slipped inside 30 with 29.89 for fifth. Welbourn replicated Besent with fourth place clocking 29.41 and Coster moved up to sixth with 29.67.

The Boys’ first event of the day was the 50m Breast and produced further finalists in Dewi Fordyce (41.94 PB) qualifying third fastest and Henry Mumford, eighth fastest with 42.31. Both Boys also improved from heat to final with Fordyce showing his battling qualities posting 40.65 to pinch the Silver medal in a new club best time and Mumford setting a new PB in 41.31.

Coster and Kate Hopper were entered for the 200m Individual Medley (IM) and did not disappoint. The delight for Coster was evident as she went 2.8 seconds faster than ever before in 2:43.04, placing second in her heat and Hopper, right on her PB making the final and setting her up for a 17-year-old Bronze and PB, in the final with 2:29.03.

The evening session opened with the Boys’ 50m fly. Fordyce continued his heavy programme with 38.85 (PB) and was followed by Sam Childs slashing five seconds from his 50m best. He stormed away in his heat to take the win in 37.92 making it two boys in the 10-11 years final for the club. Rafe Lawson then showed his fortitude after a disappointment in the breast earlier by staking a claim for the final with 34.97, his own PB.

In the final later, Lawson showed good form and was well clear of his field, taking gold in a further improvement to 34.65. A terrific, head down, no air finish in the last 5m meant Childs was able to move into Bronze medal position setting a new club best and PB with 36.86, punching the water in delight. Fordyce placed eighth in the same final.

In the Girls’ 50m Back Besent clocked 43.12 just missing the final in ninth and Lily Welbourn went 37.58.

The remaining swim of the session was Hopper in the 400m Free where she dug deep to set a three second PB and new club best in 4:47.73.

Once again, Sunday was the reverse events on show.

The young boys were on top form again with Fordyce and Childs claiming places in the 10-11 final of the 50m Free with Fordyce taking his heat in 34.89 and Childs second in his with 34.18, both PBs. They were followed by Lawson lowering his best in winning his heat to 32.71 and debutant at Counties, Joe Diehl, winning his heat to too in his own best of 31.43 to make his final in seventh. Mumford was just outside his best in 33.20.

The finals continued with the improvements. Childs picked up fourth touching in 33.91 and Fordyce seventh in 34.87. Lawson pinched the silver 12 year old medal with 31.63 and Diehl took seventh, improving himself to 31.33 after a period of illness.

Besent and Valeria Antonini made the 10-11 and 14 years breast finals. Besent’s new best time was 47.80 and Antonini went into the 38s with 38.96, both sixth into the final. They were supported by Mia Monksmith taking her heat win in 45.45 (PB), Poppy Awdry (42.24 PB), and Lucy Franklin in 41.99.

In the finals, Besent dropped time again to go 46.76 and take fifth place with Antonini shaving just 0.11 from her heat time for sixth in 38.85.

It was the 200m IM for Boys and 400m IM for Girls.

Fordyce was three seconds faster than his qualifying time with 3:06.54 for fifth and Ollie Brandwood was a class apart in his heat coming home well clear with a seven second time drop, having led from the gun to touch in 2:38.61.

It was down to tough swimmers, Coster and Hopper, to represent the club in the killer 400m IM. Coster closed her day with a six second improvement for fifth 16-year-old with 5:48.15 having led her heat for the first three strokes. Hopper, as always, fought to the end taking 17 years silver with 5:23.82.

And so, it was down to the final session encompassing the Girls’ 50m Fly and 200m Free and the Boys 50m Back.

The Club’s final two debutants at counties were in the 50m Fly. Darcie Cader dropped to go sub 40 for the first time with 39.74 and third in her heat and Rose Llewhellyn clocked 35.22 for sixth in hers. Poppy Awdry placed 13th in 34.03 (PB), Lily Welbourn set a PB (33.89) after a great start, Caitie Walters improved to 32.56 for third in her heat and then Coster and Hopper both made their finals again in 32.03 and 30.43 respectively.

Dewi Fordyce was 10th in the 50m Back in 41.88, both a PB and a club best.

Monksmith’s 200m Free was six seconds faster than she has gone before as she kept her head to come through the field and win her heat. Awdry was 1 second faster than her PB with 2:29.99 and Coster paced her race impeccably to come from fifth at 50m to place second in her heat in 2:25.00. Walters went out hard and finished spot on her best with 2:22.64 and Hopper finished seventh in her Age Group with 2:15.90.

A tired Hopper placed fourth in her 50m fly final and was able to improve from heat to final despite her punishing schedule with 30.14. Meanwhile Coster finished the series on a real high with a searing finish to claim silver 16-year-old in 31.75.

With just the relays to come at Westminster Lodge it has been a highly successful meet for the club with lots of medals but, also, a show of more strength in depth again and some stunning surprises.