Berkhamsted Swimming Club’s young members took part if the Watford Regional Qualification meet at the weekend, where every swimmer posted at least one personal best (PB) time.
Eva Lawson continued her domination of the 11-year-old age group, while Tamsin Moren returned to racing ways -- both swimmers posted Regional Qualifying Times (RQT).
Owen Strakosch began the weekend with a massive improvement of 11 seconds in the 400m freestyle. His time of 4:27.41 won him a silver medal and he set a PB at 100m (1:02.34) as he placed second in the heat.
Lawson began her meet with 200m Individual Medley (IM), picking up a gold in the 11 years’ age group just two weeks after her birthday. She also improved her county time to 2:47.16.
That was followed by another PB from Moren in 2:44.91 and Lydia Wisely getting back to her best with a time of 3:02.47.
In the 100m freestyle, Lawson made it two golds from two swims when posting 1:07.89. Emma Hockney clocked 1:15.33 while ill, Moren dropped to 1:07.46 (PB by 2.5 seconds) and Wisely was on her best time again with 1:12.76.
George Gray took on the 100m breaststroke and finished sixth in his age group with a three-second improvement to 1:36.60.
In the girls’ 50m backstroke, Lawson collected her third gold in 35.89, Hockney hit 39.21 and Wisely 36.60, both on their PBs.
In the boys’ 50m fly, Lawson Gray posted a PB, dropping a second, for a bronze in 41.64 and Ronan Philbin went inside 40 seconds for the first time (39.51) before Strakosch was close to the sub-30s barrier with a time of 30.10 to lower his best by nearly a second.
Strakosch stepped straight back up for the 200m freestyle and again went hard from the gun, dropping his 100m best at halfway again to 1:01.64 and should be confident of breaking the minute next time he swims a straight 100m, finishing in seventh (2:08.57), after Tom Holmes-Higgin had touched on his own best time in 2:35.85.
In the 200m breaststroke, Moren was just off her best but lacked some zip, slipping just outside three minutes for a bronze medal.
Next up in the 100m backstroke was Wisely, showing good endurance win her fourth race in short order and again finished on her best (1:23.53).
In the boys’ 200m backstroke, Holmes-Higgin slipped in a 2:50.22 time and Strakosch gained his second medal, a bronze, improving his best time by five seconds (2:24.30).
The day finished with the 50m breaststroke for the girls and 50m freestyle for the boys. Moren and Wisely were marginally off their best times in the breaststroke and were followed by another Regional PB for Philbin in the freestyle, down to 34.74, just being pipped to a heat win in the last few strokes after a strong first 45 metres.
Holmes-Higgin posted 31.48 before Louis Armitage returned to the competition pool to pick up a bronze medal (25.36) and Strakosch showed the first signs of tiredness on a busy day with a 27.65 time.
Day two saw the reverse events. Lara Connell swam her first event, the 400m freestyle and set the tone for the day as Strakosch had on the Saturday, by going inside six minutes (5:58.52) for fourth place in her age group.
Lawson attacked from the gun, taking the gold medal by more than 35 seconds, winning her heat from the second-slowest lane, one, showing just how far she has come recently in 5:08.04, a PB by nearly eight seconds over her recent County Champs time.
Holmes-Higgin returned and began strongly in the 200 IM to set the first PB of three for the boys in the event, posting 2:51.54, followed by Dan Chennells 2:23.79 (two-second PB) and Zac Patel, who surprised himself with a time of 2:18.71 to claim a bronze medal in the Open category.
In the 100m freestyle, Philbin and Holmes-Higgin replicated their PB swims in 1:14.76 and 1:11.18 respectively.
Patel and Chennells were back in the water less than 10 minutes after their PBs in the IM and both struggled to get out fast, finishing just over a second outside their bests, despite finishing strongly in both cases.
Connell showed her improvement in the 100m breaststroke, storming away up the final length to finally get rid of the opposition in her heat with a time of 1:37.94. Her eight-second improvement moved her up the seedings to fifth in her age group.
She was followed by occasional Open meet Competitor Alex Farnham, who was delighted to clock her own PB time of 1:34.29. Moren then showed she has rediscovered her zest to race hard, attacking from the off to set a PB at 50m (38.00), more than a second faster than she managed in the 50m race the day before. She pressed on to take the heat win in 1:21.64 for a silver medal and improved her Regional Qualification Time (RQT) in the process.
Holmes-Higgin and Patel swam in the 50m back and then Farnham was first up in the 50m Fly with 36.68, joined in the event by Lawson (37.17 enough for another gold) and another pb for Moren with 34.21, 8th overall.
In the 200m freestyle, Hockney sliced an astonishing five seconds off her best with 2:45.07, moving up the rankings five places.
Wisely, concentrating on technique, dropped her best to 2:43.11 and Lawson picked up another win, posting 2:27.25 which moved her to three RQTs as an 11-year-old in the 11/12-years category, realistically a year early.
Both Eva’s 200m and 400m freestyle swims broke the previous club records set by Ella Nijkamp in 2017 -- and Ella made the National Championships last year, so the future is bright for the youngster.
Moren led her heat in the 200m freestyle for 175 metres before her fast start caught up with her. Unable to respond to an attack from the top seed in her heat, she eventually finished in second place in 2:27.41.
Wisely stepped up to the 200m backstroke and cruised through to go under three minutes for the first time in 2:59.35, once more showing how fast she can swim when utilising her ability to swim with great technique.
Lawson’s time of 2:46.84, her second fastest ever, was enough to take gold, before the final 50m events of the meet.
In the 50m freestyle, Wisely improved to 32.04, Hockney dropped her best under 32 seconds with 31.86, Moren fought her way to 31.35 and Lawson finished the meet with another gold to complete a clean sweep in a time of 31.42, remarkably, after all her races, just 5/100ths outside her best.