THREE Swindon Dolphin swimmers added themselves to the national qualifier list last weekend.
Jon Audis, Rebecca Flack and Mathew Sambrook all making the national grade at the ASA South West Regional Championships in Plymouth.
The squad of 21 also achieved a total medal haul of two gold, five silver and four bronze, finishing a respectable seventh in the overall table.
When Audis first achieved national qualification Dolphin’s youngest 2014 qualifiers were just one years old and those old enough at the time were being taught in the Dolphin Learn to Swim program. Twelve years on and 33-year-old Audis is still achieving national qualifying times, this year in the 50m backstroke.
Rebecca Flack also finally fulfilled her dream of competing at the national championships as the 15-year-old dipped under the required time in the 50m breaststroke.
Mathew Sambrook’s last visit to the Plymouth pool two years ago ended in disappointment as he finished half a second outside his national time in what was then his main event, the 200m backstroke. A change of focus towards distance freestyle has paid dividends as the 18-year-old has continually broken middle and long distance club records since.
In the 400m freestyle, despite again setting a new club record, Sambrook’s impressive 4:11.21 swim was still not enough to earn him national qualifier status. His last chance lay in the last heat of the last event of the meet and the hours of training paid off as an impeccably paced 16:33.50 swim booked his place at the Sheffield event in August.
Charlotte Gardo was clearly not content with her 50m breaststroke club record gained when she recently achieved national qualification in the event, as she again lowered the standard. Gardo also found herself in a swim-off for a place in the 50m butterfly final and she thrived under pressure of the occasion, recording 30.15 to break another club record that has stood since 2007.
Dolphin maintained a strong presence in the finals sessions with 34 individual final appearances over the three days of competition. Converting a final appearance to a podium place at regional level is always a tough ask, but Charlotte Pitts (gold, silver), Liam Jefferies (gold, bronze), Mathew Sambrook (two silvers), Lauren Matthews (silver, bronze), Fraser Durston (silver, bronze) and Beth Crouch (bronze) all managed it.
Peter Harper also won 50m freestyle gold competing in the muti-classification S14 category in his first regional championships.
This week also sees the formation of a partnership between Dolphin and other top performing clubs in the north of the region. The aim of the program is to provide enhanced training opportunities for competitors at all levels.
It also gives a vital opportunity for coaches within the programmes to work together and learn from each other whilst providing the swimmers with some variety in their training schedule.
So far this season, Swindon Dolphin has produced nine national qualifiers, a testament to the club’s competitive swimming program developed by Louise Clayton.
Clayton is modest about her achievements, commenting on the weekend’s competition: “A fantastic all-round team performance from all swimmers, with great support from coaches and parents. I’m proud to be involved.”