LOCAL swimmers secured their place as the best in the county on Saturday, when the final two sessions of the Wiltshire ASA Youth Championships took place at the Link Centre.
Swindon Dolphin went into the final day of competition leading the medals table, while Tigersharks, also based in the town, were second. But the swimmers didn’t rest of their laurels on the third day, finishing the championships with 109 medals between them.
Swindon Dolphin head coach Louise Clayton said: “I’m over the moon with the three days of competition. We’ve had some really strong performances and dominated finals.”
Dolphin’s James Clark picked up his fourth and fifth senior individual titles of the competition first in the 100m freestyle, storming home in 51.64, and then in the 200m individual medley ahead of teammate Mathew Sambrook in third.
Former Herod student, Clark, who grew up in Oakhurst but now trains in Bath, where he’s at university, also won the male ‘skins’ sprint elimination competition last week.
“I’ll always come back and swim for Dolphin,” said the 19-year-old. “They’ve done a lot for me, I wouldn’t be here otherwise. The coaching I’ve had has been great, there’s a great togetherness and they’re my home club.
“I joined when I was four, so they taught me to swim and I love swimming with them, I think I will keep coming back forever.”
Dolphin team captain Sambrook added to his personal gold tally in the 200m butterfly, ahead of club mate Liam Jefferies in third, before teaming up with Clark in the men's 200m freestyle team relay, to secure his seventh gold of the championships.
Tigershark Sean Purvis completed his unblemished 100 per cent junior championships by collecting his eighth, ninth and 10th golds, one for each of the events he contested, in the 100m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 200m butterfly.
His performance in the fly was also strong enough to secure a senior silver, putting his total individual haul for the championships at fourteen medals.
Bethany Wakefield, who won four medals last weekend, made it a trio of junior golds for the championships in the 100m freestyle ahead of Dolphin Annie Ward in third and Tigershark club mate Lisa Cowley.
Fellow Tigershark Oliver Howitt, completed a hat-trick of bronzes for the championships by grabbing junior and senior bronze medals in the 200m breaststroke.
Rebecca Cook doubled her tally for the championships with two medals in the 200m breaststroke. Her 2:44.83 in the heats was good enough to secure the silver in the junior championship, ahead of Dolphin Kayleigh Bartlett who finished with a junior bronze, and earn herself a place in the final where she finished third. She also picked up a junior silver in the 200m fly.
Tigersharks team captain, Sophie Roberts, 18, won the 50m backstroke completing her two lengths in a time of 31.83, more than half a second ahead of second-placed Rebecca Smith from Bradford-On-Avon.
“I love being captain for events like this,” she said. “Helping out all the younger swimmers who have less experience of these things is something I really enjoy.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to come here and win, so it’s a bit of a shock.
“It’s my last Wiltshire championships, so I wanted to go out with a bang. I’m going to university in September in Cardiff and I’ll be carrying on swimming in Wales.”
Tigersharks Head Coach Lesley Leffers said that success last weekend had bred more good performances on the final day.
“I think that these young swimmers realised last week that actually, they are good enough.” She said. “I think that’s why our good performances have continued into this week, there’s a belief now and a good attitude in the team.
“These performances have shown me that this band of swimmers are good enough and ready now, to be the inspiration for our younger swimmers.
“Lots of clubs have come to us and said, ‘hey you’ve done well this year’ which is really nice. We had a a fallow year, the year before, so I’ve been really pleased with them because they’re trying and trying and trying. It’s been really good.”
Swindon Dolphin women dominated the 200m butterfly, securing four of the six medals on offer. 16-year-old Lauren Matthews, saw off Trowbridge’s Danni Whiting, who finished strongly, in 2:21.96 to win the senior title, Matthews’ club mate Georgina Pitts picked up bronze.
In the junior competition, it was an all-Swindon podium as winner Victoria Tainty and Rebecca Matthews, both Dolphins, were separated by Tigershark Rebecca Cook in second.
Evergreen Jon Audis, of Swindon Dolphin, won the 50m backstroke in 27.54, ahead of Ricky Griggs of Trowbridge and fellow Dolphin Adam Coleman. At 33, Audis topped the podium with more years under his belt than the combined age of those who flanked him on the lower steps. Charlotte Pitts took bronze in the 100m freestyle, just 0.21 seconds ahead of younger sister Georgina.
In the 4x50m team freestyle relays, Dolphin took gold in both senior races, ahead of Tigersharks in the women’s race. Tigersharks again followed Swindon Dolphin in the women’s junior race, after Dolphin came from behind to win by 0.47 seconds. In the men’s junior race, Tigersharks were second, behind winners Trowbridge and Dolphin came third.
When the Adver asked Louise Clayton, about numbers of swimmers winning over multiple disciplines, she said: “We have a programme that fosters that. As a youngster they cover all strokes over various distances, then when they get to youth level they specialise a little bit more.
“But that background is there from the early days and when they can train a bit more and we can add more sessions, we can build more variety into sessions. I think it’s a testament to the programme and the pathway.
“For the more experienced swimmers, this is about working on their skills, their technique and their pacing. Their ultimate goal is to get to the nationals and actually succeed there, get to the finals this competition gives them a good platform to build from.”
Former Dolphin and Tigershark member Craig Harris, who currently swims for Corsham ASC broke the British short course S14 200m butterfly record, pending ratification from British Swimming. The 15-year-old who is classified as S14, with learning difficulties, clocked 2:20.31, to break the record which had been standing since 2011.