A TRIO of Vale swimmers took the north by storm when they joined nearly 40 fellow Ellesmere College Titans members in making the long journey to Sunderland to compete in a top grade Level One National Qualifier Meet.
As its name implies, the meet was designed for elite swimmers to attempt the tough qualifying times for the British Summer Championships (top UK 24) and the British nations’ individual ASA National Summer Championships (those ranked UK 25-48). Because it was one of the first events in the short seven-week qualifying window, it was well supported by the top swimmers throughout northern England and Scotland.
That said, the two Vale girls Tazmin Pugh (16) and Chloe Golding (18) had other qualification criteria on their minds with just a few days left in the window for the British Olympic and Junior trials in Glasgow between April 12-17 and their efforts have ensured they will join a dozen of their club-mates in competing for selection.
From around Great Britain, this number competing at the ‘Trials’ will only be rivalled by the University Centres of Swimming Excellence at Loughborough, Bath, Stirling, Edinburgh and a small number of much larger swimming colleges.
It is an amazing achievement for all the hard work the Titans swimmers and their head coach Alan Bircher are constantly putting in during morning and evening training.
Pugh won eight gold medals and three silver on her way to taking the 15/over (open) Top Girl award, in addition to breaking several ‘meet records’ as well as consolidating her nine qualifying times for the ‘Trials’, when she will be competing in five of those – 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m butterfly and 100m and 200m backstroke.
She will be hoping to be in the reckoning for the European Junior Championships or cracking the ‘2020 Tokyo Olympics training group’.
Pugh also broke the 50m backstroke West Midlands long course senior record with a time of 29.12. This time promoted her to second in the 17/under European rankings and to number one in the UK so far this year for 16, 17 and 18-year-olds, as well as being the fifth fastest of all time for a British 16-year-old.
Taking two golds, a silver and bronze was Golding who qualified for two events at the Trials – the 100m and 200m backstroke.
Her gold in the finals of the 100m backstroke was especially exciting as she took on team-mate Pugh and just touched first by one tenth of a second in 1:02.79, which was a little slower than her heat time of 1:02.56.
Fellow Titan Harry Bamforth (16) recorded a sub-17-minute time (16:59.32) for the first time as he came seventh in the 60-length 1,500m freestyle race (sixth in UK ranking window) and this turned out to be a great start to the event as he set a long course personal best in every event.
A tenth place came Bamforth’s way in the 200m backstroke (2:18.67), followed by 13th place in the 400m freestyle (4:19.77, seven-second PB) and 4:56.69 in the 400m individual medley (seven-second PB).
He recorded 2:04.12 – a two-second PB – in the 200m freestyle and a coach’s comment as one of his best races in the last three years before finishing 13th in the 200m fly in 2:25.51.
If he can take a few seconds off at the four-day Welsh Long Course Championships as well as the up and coming Swansea and Cardiff Long Course meets in the next few months in the 400m and 1,500m freestyle, 400m individual medley and 200m backstroke, Bamforth should qualify for the British Summer Championships as one of the top 24 in the UK.