The second of two South East Regional Age Group Championship weekends took place on 26th and 27th May 2018 at K2 Leisure Centre, Crawley. Once again, Guildford City’s Swimming Club’s younger competitive swimmers took on their peers from across the South East region.
The first events of this second weekend were the alternate distance freestyle events, 1500m for girls and 800m for boys. These events, once again, appeared to set the tone of the weekend for Guildford City swimmers, in terms achieving great personal best swim times. Both Kennedy Gordon and Charlotte Wensley claimed silver medals in the 13 year and 14 year age groups respectively, Charlotte narrowly missing the gold medal by 1.46 seconds, having been in a really tight battle with Wycombe & District swimmer, Ella Dyson, from the halfway point in the race and culminating in there being no more than a couple of hundredths between them at every turn for the last 500m #greatracemodel. Alicia Peinado also had a good swim to finish 4th in the girls event, meanwhile, Mackenzie Russell collected another silver medal in the boys 13 years 800m event, despite having goggle issues at the start #whoneedsgoggles.
The heats saw many swimmers qualify for finals later in the day, the highlights of which included 14 year old Josh Shaw’s 50m freestyle swim of 25.05 seconds, a new personal best and the fastest qualifier by over 0.75 seconds (equivalent to almost a whole body length clear). The final saw Josh duly convert his fastest qualifier spot to a gold medal in a time of 25.14 seconds, which would also have been a personal best time at the start of the day. In the 13 year age group, Mackenzie Russell showed the full range of his freestyle capabilities to win yet another silver medal in a time of 27.44 seconds.
However, most impressive swim of the day went to Louise Bressler in the girls 11/12 years 200m Breaststroke event. Louise qualified as the fastest swimmer in her age group by some 7 seconds. In the final, Louise simply swam away from the rest of the field, gaining a new personal best time of 2:44.61 seconds, over 12 seconds clear of the rest of the field. Louise’s coach Matt Smart and former coach Sally Williamson were absolutely stunned by the performance. What was even more impressive is that Louise’s time would also have collected silver medals in both the 13 years and 14 years age groups.
Kennedy Gordon claimed yet another silver medal in the 100m freestyle event in a finish that separated the medallists was covered by just 0.04 seconds.
Special mention also needs to go to one of the youngest swimmers competing in the entire Championships, Fergus Thomson, aged 11, competing in the combined 11/12 years age group in boys 100m backstroke qualified for the final and finished 8th in a new personal best time.
Other finalists on the first day included Hollie Widdows (100m freestyle), Jamie Pickering, Dan Hicks and Lennie Page (200m Butterfly) Lara Turan (50m backstroke) Josh Shaw, Mackenzie Russell and Ryan Rautenbach (100m backstroke).
The final day of regional competition saw a wonderful performance from Alex Cook in the heats of the boys 13 years 200m backstroke, to qualify fastest for the final, closely followed by team mates Mackenzie Russell and Ryan Rautenbach who qualified in 2nd and 6th positions, respectively. In the younger age group of this event, Fergus Thomson, was once performing outstandingly well against boys a year older, to qualify in 6th position for the final.
In the girls 200 freestyle event, Louise Bressler, Kennedy Gordon, Alicia Peinado and Charlotte Wensley qualified for finals as did Dan Hicks, Nathan Potgieter Josh Shaw in the 100m butterfly event and Rory Quirk and Dan Hicks in the 50m breaststroke .
However, it was Louise Bressler that was, once again, the star performer with a 100m breaststroke swim which saw her dip under the 1.20 second barrier for the first time and qualifying fastest for the final with a margin similar to the 200m event of the previous day. Teammate, Connie Mortimer, also qualified for the 13 year age group final.
With only a short gap between the mornings’ heats and the finals sessions, coach Matt Smart set about the task of motivating his swimmers, the results of which were immediately evident. Dan Hicks, Louise Bressler and Kennedy Gordon, improved their qualification positions in the 50m breaststroke and 200m freestyle finals, finishing strongly in their respective races, to earn silver medals.
The boys 13 years 200m backstroke demonstrated Guildford City’s strength in depth across this event, providing three of the eight finalists. The final saw Leatherhead swimmer Dominic Morgan swim quick from the start, leading all the way to take an impressive victory, however, Alex Cook and Mackenzie Russell both improved their times from the heat swim to finish 2nd and 4th respectively.
For the 100m breaststroke was almost a certainty for the gold medal, however, despite having just swam a great 300m freestyle, she swam a fantastic race achieving a stunning time of 1:17.65 seconds which will see her attend the end of season National Championships.
The last events of the weekend were the boys 400m freestyle and girls 400m individual medley events. The boys event saw both Mackenzie Russell and Rory Quirk finish just outside the medals, 4th place in their respective age groups. Josh Shaw finished 5th in the 14 years age group, just behind Rory, however, these swims have also secured them National Championship swims over this distance.
Jasmine Findlay also finished 4th in the girls 14 years individual medley event, whilst in the younger age group, Lexie Hughes, again swimming against girls a year older, also finished 4th. We are however, running out of superlatives to offer in respect of Louise Bressler. Louise won her age group in a time of 5:18.97 (a time most swimmers several years older than her would be proud of) and by a margin of some 25m in the water.
One final mention needs to go to retiring County Squad coach, Sally Williamson, who left the poolside at a Regional Championships for the last time. Sally has been integral to the success of Guildford City and younger age group swimming across the region. It was fitting that this was acknowledged by the South East region and by her fellow coaches. There have been many highlights, not least of which have been three successive National Junior League titles and in years past where swimmers overall swims across different strokes and a variety of distances were aggregated, Sally’s swimmers were awarded six of the top eight overall awards from the regional championships, a feat that has never been surpassed.
Sally Williamson – LEGEND!!!