The Youth and Senior Regional Championships (15yrs and over) took place over the bank holiday weekend of 29th Apr to 1st May at Wycombe Leisure Centre and Guildford City swimmer rose to the occasion in impressive fashion. Swimmers from National Youth, National Age Group and Senior CDS were all represented competing against the best swimmers and clubs in the region.
There were highlights and brilliant performances all across the weekend and they started with the Male (Riaan Steyn, Henry Offin, George Smith and Dylan Conway) and Female (Ellenor Rixon, Georgia Smith, Molly Robinson and Katie Hodgson) 4x200m Freestyle relay teams in the +17yrs age group, where both teams finished 2nd and secured their spots at the British Summer National Championships at the end of July. This meet represents the only opportunity that the club has to qualify relay teams to the Summer National Championships demonstrating the importance of the teams coming together and performing as well as they did over the weekend.
In the first final of Saturday evening, Tilly Hansen-Hamilton got the ball rolling with a bronze medal in the Girls 15yrs 200m Backstroke. This was followed in the next event by Luke Pullen, who had a hugely successful championships, finishing 1st in the Boys 15yrs 200m Freestyle and subsequently winning the first of many gold medals for the Green Army. In the same event but in the +17yrs final, Charlie Pullan finished 3rd, narrowly beating his teammate Henry Offin who finished with a lifetime best. The next set of finals included the 100m Breaststroke were more medals came from Sarah Tripp (silver, +17yrs), Luca Fankhauser and Charlie Trotman (silver and bronze, 15yrs) and Sergiu Chete (silver, +17yrs).
In the middle of the finals session were the sprints, with a whole series of 50m finals back to back, and the good swimming continued. Luke was back winning a silver medal in the 15yrs 50m Freestyle. In the 15yrs 50m Breaststroke Charlie just got the better of Luca with the medals being reversed from the earlier 100m Breaststroke, Charlie silver and Luca bronze. Sergiu continued the Breaststroke success securing yet another silver medal in the +17yrs 50m.
To end this first marathon finals session of the championships were the Male and Female 200m Butterfly, Female 100m Freestyle and Male 100m Backstroke finals. In the 200m Butterfly there were silver medals for both Ciara Walsh (+17yrs) and Ben Rowett (16yrs). Ben just touched out his teammate Alex Armstrong who secured a bronze medal just 0.30sec behind Ben. In the Ladies 100m FC Caroline Laursen was Guildford’s highest finisher in 4th (15yrs), but there would be bigger things to come for Caroline later in the weekend. The outstanding performance of the day came right at the end of the day, with Luke again putting on a show. Earlier in the day Luke had broken the 60sec barrier for the first time in his career and he would go on to do this again lowering his heat time and finishing in 59.64 nearly 4sec ahead of the rest field. The last swim of the day was the 100m Backstroke final where Alex collected another medal to add to his growing collection finishing 3rd in the 16yrs final.
Day 2 started with a bang and a gold medal for the team of Alicia Wilson, Sarah Tripp, Ciara Walsh and Molly Robinson in the Ladies +17yrs 4x100m Medley Relay. This was then followed up by Riaan Steyn in the Men’s 1500m Freestyle who finished with a silver medal in the +17yrs age group. To finish this first session of day 2 Tilly Hansen-Hamilton stepped up in the 400m IM and grabbed a silver medal in a new lifetime best of 5:07.15.
The second session of the day included the Men’s 4×100 FC Relays and it was here that we saw more gold medal success for City. The team of Noa Doest, Luca, Luke and Alex came up trumps in a close battle with two other Surrey clubs, beating Leatherhead by less than half a second and Dorking just another second behind that.
It was now on to another busy finals session which began with another outstanding performance by Luke. This time it was the 200m Backstroke where he was 1.2sec up at the first 50m and just kept pulling away from the rest of the field, again breaking through a big barrier, this time going under 2min and 10sec for the first time, finishing in 2:09.86. Tilly was next, swimming the 15yrs 200m Breaststroke where a tough and gutsy swim saw her finish with another personal best and a bronze medal to boot. In the +17yrs age group of the same event, club captain Katie Hodgson, put in a measured and controlled performance to win gold by 4sec, just outside the time she set in the heats.
Guildford’s momentum continued into the Men’s 50m butterfly. Luca won bronze (15yrs) as did Ollie Leonard (+17yrs), who got his hands on the wall just ahead of club captain Chris Green (4th) and CDS Senior swimmer David Hammond (6th).
Luke was back in the pool for the Men’s 100m Freestyle (15yrs) and the result would be the same, but the race was a lot closer, he got his hand to the wall first, winning by just under a second. In the +17yrs final Charlie Pullan swam away from the field to a convincing victory in 51.60. In the last set of finals of the day, Luca stepped up with a new season’s best of 2:20.67 to win silver in the Men’s 200m IM (15yrs), again it was a race of fine margins as he got the touch by 0.06sec from the 3rd placed swimmer.
Two successful days completed it was on to the final day on Bank Holiday Monday. It was the Men’s turn to get the swimming started with the 4x100m Medley Relay and the 14-16yrs boys got right back to what they had been doing all weekend, winning medals! The team of Luke, Charlie, Alex and Noa were a class apart, winning gold and finishing 3 seconds clear of a strong team from Wycombe. That was it for the first session of day three, but there would be plenty of quality swimming to come from the Green Army later in the day.
Straight from the off in the second session of the day the +17yrs Ladies 4x100m Freestyle team of Alicia, Georgia Smith, Molly and Sarah fought a give and take battle with a very strong team from Woking. Molly handed over to Sarah on the last leg with 0.80sec advantage, by the time Sarah had made it to the other end of the pool that advantage had been erased to a 0.10sec deficit, now came the fight back as Sarah gritted her teeth and overhauled the Woking swimmer to win by 0.40sec!
The senior girls had set the team up perfectly for the last session of the championships and they didn’t require a second invitation to go and chase medals. Having already finished 4th twice in the meet it was now Caroline’s time to shine in the 15yrs 200m Freestyle final. She took on the challenge after swimming the 800m Freestyle (5th) earlier in the day and delivered a new lifetime best to finish second in 2:10.25. Charlie went on to win a silver medal in the 15yrs 200m Breaststroke, with a time just off the excellent PB he had produced earlier in the heats. Two finals later it was Sergiu’s turn in the +17yrs final, he had also had a great heat swim to claim lane 4 for the final and backed this up to win the gold medal 1 second ahead of his nearest competitor.
Luke kept his gold rush going on the 50m Backstroke, taking a clean sweep of the 15yrs Backstroke events, this time winning by less than half a second. It didn’t take long for Luke’s last gold medal to be hung around his neck, yet again pushing through the 60 second barrier for the first time by the narrowest of margins, 59.99 on the 100m Butterfly. Luca followed him home to claim silver and a brilliant ‘one two’ for the Green Army. Luke finished with 8 gold medals in total! In between Luke’s two gold medals of the session was another, this time for Ciara Walsh who won her first ever individual Regional medal, also on the 100m Butterfly in the +17yrs Ladies event. Lastly in the 100m Butterfly events a worthy mention must go to Alex and Ben, who in the 16yrs final competed in what was one of the highest quality races of the whole weekend. Alex snatched a bronze medal finishing equal with Alex Boyd of Thanet and Ben finished just behind them in 5th, both boys broke through the 60sec mark for the first time achieving excellent personal bests.
To finish the championships it was Tilly and the 15yrs 200m IM. It had been a long weekend, but showing no signs of fatigue Tilly attacked the race and collected a silver medal and another lifetime best performance of 2:26.23.
All in all it was a fabulous team performance across both individual and relay events bringing back a sack full of medals and titles back to Guildford. Now it’s on to the Age Group swimmers and their Regional Championships which take place over the two weekends of the 13th/14th and 27th/28th May. Green Army!!