SWIMMING: Seven for Pitts as Dolphin girls shine

First published in Sport

CHARLOTTE Pitts brought home a stunning seven medals as Swindon Dolphin’s female swimmers dominated the first long course event of the season last weekend.

The youngster claimed four golds, two silvers and a bronze in Bristol, as the club’s 15 and over girls put in a superb display with Victoria Jennings and Lauren Matthews helping Dolphin to clean sweeps in both the 400m and 200m freestyle and the 200m butterfly.

Pitts took the gold in the opening 400m event and again in the butterfly, but was pipped by Jennings in the 200m freestyle on a weekend where she significantly beat her previous personal best.

The 200m individual medley provided what was probably the most exciting race of the weekend with Samantha Berry leading the way in the final heat up to the last 50m, only to be pipped into third place by Pitts and Matthews on the finish line, with Emily Dixon making it a top four finish for Dolphin.

James Clark enjoyed a clean sweep of seven golds in his events, but the weekend was also a baptism of fire of 11-year-old Aaron Knight, who competed in 10 events in his first ever long course meeting.

Knight picked up a gold in the 200m butterfly and bronze in the 50m event at Hengrove Park, as he represented Swindon Dolphin in all five 200m events, all four 50m and the 400m freestyle.

The youngster also achieved county times in seven of his events, during a weekend where 48 swimmers represented the club at the Level Three Open Meet.

The event was the first long course competition of the season, and came within a few days of many young swimmers returning from overseas and UK training camps, while also providing a rare chace for less experienced county standard swimmers to aim for national standard times.

Along with Knight, other youngsters venturing into long course competition for the first time included Eleanor Brown, Georgie Manning and Regan Jefferies, each of whom won a bronze medal for their efforts, whilst first-timer Josh Fox went one step further to win two silver and one bronze from his seven events entered.

Although the age group (under 15 years) regional qualifying times are set at short course, the level three meet still provided the opportunity for swimmers to record qualifying swims.

Olivia Flack, James Watson, Sophie Bartlett and Rebecca Matthews did just that, while Laura Brown put in a impressive performances that took her a significant step closer to achieving her first regional standard swim.

The 2013 youth regional qualifying times have come into line with next year’s youth national times in being set as long course, and in some cases appear to be tougher than the previous years’ short course times.

Despite this, 11 of the Dolphin youth swimmers swam within the qualifying or consideration times. James Clark and Charlotte Pitts each recorded seven regional standard swims with Clark also going under the national standard in the 50m freestyle; an event he has already qualified in for the 2013 nationals by virtue of his outstanding 2012 nationals semi-final performance.

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