A total of 15 youngsters from Berkhamsted Swimming Club lined up at The Venue in Borehamwood over the weekend for the sixth Hoddesdon County Qualifier meet, which delivered some excellent results for the club.
The meet began with Lara Connell competing in her first Open meet and first 400m freestyle. She was far from overawed and nailed a personal best (PB) in both the 100m and 200m events (1:27.68 and 3:04.30) as well as a first-time best at the end of the race in 6:12.19, which brought a reward of a bronze medal.
Eva Lawson’s recent dominance continued as she blitzed her 100m breaststroke best time by nearly five-and-a-half seconds to take gold in 1:36.05. This time gave her a complete set of County Qualifying Times (CQT) in her first year at this level.
Also in the 100m breaststroke, Issy Whitaker collected her second County Consideration Time (CCT), just two weeks after her first one, posting 1:43.98 as she won her heat for fourth in the event.
Connell, just minutes after her 400m freestyle, posted 1:45.71 to smash her best by 12.76 seconds.
After Eric Batt had fallen foul of twitching before the starting signal in his 100m breaststroke when he would have swum quicker than ever before in 1:44.87, Lawson took her second gold in the 50m freestyle (33.02), Whitaker improved her best to 37.80 and Connell touched in 38.15.
Bella Hinch, in her first Open, took a merited second in her 50m freestyle heat from the slowest-seeded lane eight for a new PB of 34.81 and, in the penultimate heat, it was a head-to-head clash between Abbie Briers and Lydia Wisely. In a closely-contested heat, Briers just came out on top , taking the heat in 32.27 to Wisely’s 32.87.
Batt managed a superb second length in the boys’ 50 free to come home second in his heat in 36.60.
In the girls’ 100m fly, this time it was a head-to-head between Briers and Lawson. Both set PB times with Briers leading the whole race from the start, turning nearly two seconds ahead of her best at 50m and finishing in 1:24.31 to improve her CCT, with Lawson powering home in third in the heat, gold in her age and yet another club record for 10-year-olds in 1:28.13, improving her CQT as well.
Briers took the silver in the 12-year-old age group, while Wisely collected a bronze to end day one.
The Sunday began with Alex Kalverboer returning to the fray in the 200m IM, picking up a gold with a small PB of 2:51.45, improving his CCT. He took fourth in the 50m breaststroke minutes later and Louis Armitage was just outside his best in taking the Open gold medal.
Lawson, showing no signs of tiredness, pocketed a gold in the 50m back, lowering her best by two-and-a-quarter seconds and first-timer Nell Coster posted a CCT of 45.75, improving by almost a second.
Lara Coster clocked a CCT of 38.14 and Bella Hinch dropped more than four seconds to clock 41.48.
Kalverboer came up next for the 100m free and showed how far he has come by lowering his best by over two seconds to 1:08.82 for silver in his age group. Armitage repeated the silver medal feat, hitting 1:00.44.
In the 50m fly, Nell Coster dropped just over a second to 48.50 and Wisely picked up another bronze in 37.10.
For the girls’ 100m IM there were medals for Lawson (gold – club record and a six-second PB 1:20.29), Wisely (silver – 1:25.08) and Lara Coster (bronze – 1:27.16) with Hinch showing her best form by taking nearly 6.5 seconds from her best in 1:29.90.
Kalverboer, despite looking tired after a heavy programme, still had enough to claim a bronze medal in the 200m breaststroke with a time of 3:15.57 and then the girls took on the 200m IM.
Lawson dropped in another club-best of 2:53.61 for yet another gold medal and Vicky Ayles took home a silver in 2:56.20.
Kalverboer then collected out his final medals with a silver in the 200m freestyle, having recovered to slice more than five seconds from his best time in 2:28.91 and a bronze medal in the 50m fly (38.20).
In the 50m breaststoke, Millie Harrison joined the party with a bronze in 47.88 and Ayles improved her best time to 44.21.
Zac Patel came for the final session and claimed gold in the 50m backstroke in a CCT of 30.40 and a silver in the 100m IM in 1:06.38.
Emma Hockney also joined in for the final session. Her 1:18.18 for the 100m Free claimed the bronze and she gained a second bronze in the 100m Back with 1:31.17.
Hinch showed what she is capable of when she chopped more than seven seconds from her 100m freestyle to 1:21.43 and Ayles gained a silver with 1:11.97, following up with another silver in the 100m backstroke as well in 1:24.22.
To cap another fantastic meet, Lawson made a complete sweep of golds from her races as she set an improved CQT in the 200m breaststroke (3:25.20) and Harrison took a bronze in her age group, improving by 1.68 seconds to 3:35.56.
There will be two more opportunities to qualify for County Champs in January/February 2019 at the Arena League final round on December 8 and the Hemel Hempstead-run Alan Doyle Memorial Sprint meet on December 9.