PERSHORE Swimming Club sent an 18-strong team to compete at the Level 2 Gloucester Open Meet at the weekend and returned home with 13 gold, ten silver and five bronze medals.
The annual event is widely regarded as one of the region’s strongest competitions, attracting top national and district swimmers from as far as Cornwall and Devon as well as some of the country’s biggest city clubs including Cardiff and Bristol.
Jasmine Franks (9) showed she has a very bright future in the sport, coming away with five podium finishes and personal bests in every event. Franks swam to gold in the girls 200m freestyle in 3.02.70, producing a strong display that saw her lead from the front.
She then added three silvers, smashing previous personal bests, in the 200m breaststroke (3.49.74), 200m IM (3.30.18) and the 50m breaststroke (47.58) before completing her haul with bronze in the 50m backstroke (44.35).
In the nine-year-old age group, Tamara Marsden and Lauren Annis were also amongst the medals and smashed personal bests. Marsden produced a superb personal best in the 200m backstroke, touching in 3.33.01 to grab a silver medal. Marsden then put in another good performance in the shorter distance 50m backstroke, just missing out on a medal in 46.67.
Annis was unlucky not to take gold in the 50m backstroke, powering to second place in 44.09 and a massive personal best, and she produced a solid swim in the 50m breaststroke of 51.11.
Hannah Woodcock (10), one of the many rising young stars coming through the Pershore ranks, was in dominant form in the ten-year-old category. Woodcock won four medals including two golds and was very close to securing her first Midland Qualifying Time (MQT).
Her best performance was undoubtedly the 100m breaststroke in which she grabbed gold in 1.33.15. She then added a second gold in the shorter distance 50m breaststroke, again producing a PB of 42.55, as well as a nearly achieving her first MQT with a second place in the 100m freestyle (1.12.72) and she also snatched bronze in the 200m IM (2.58.58 PB).
Alex Barry (10) was in excellent form during the weekend and recorded her first victory at a Level 2 meet. Barry blew her ten-year-old rivals away in the 50m fly event, producing a fine display and massive PB to take gold in 37.60. She then produced good performances and PBs in the 200m freestyle (2.55.97) and 100m breaststroke (1.45.09), showing the major progress she has made in the last six months.
Macey French (10) and Olivia Howard (10) were also both close to podium finishes. French’s best performance by far was the tough 100m fly in which she clocked 1.28.30 to finish fourth and a PB by over 20 seconds. French also produced good swims and series of PBs in the 200m freestyle (2.50.02), 100m backstroke (1.28.30), 200m backstroke (3.13.38), 200m IM (3.15.76) and 400m freestyle (6.11.69).
Howard looked strong in the girls 50m backstroke, producing a big new PB time of 41.03.
Megan Annis (11) joined Pershore’s eight-strong team going to the Midlands District Championships in Coventry this June by claiming her first MQT. Annis has been threatening to achieve several MQTs this year and was rewarded with a place at the championships with a superb time of 1.16.75 in the 100m backstroke, which is nearly four seconds inside the qualifying time.
Annis also produced good swims in the 200m backstroke (2.51.57), 50m backstroke (36.38), 100m freestyle (1.13.25) and 100m breaststroke (1.36.79).
Isabella Woodcock (11) made it double gold for the two sisters as she also claimed two first places. Woodcock won gold in the 100m breaststroke in 1.27.25 which was a personal best and also lowered her existing MQT. She added a second gold in the 50m breaststroke in 39.67, always looking very hard to beat in this event, and also clocked 3.06.19 (PB) in the 200m IM.
Charlotte Downey and Isobel Cumming again went head-to-head in many of the events, pushing each other to produce new personal bests during the weekend. Downey produced PBs in the 200m freestyle (2.43.27), 100m backstroke (1.23.92), 200m backstroke (3.00.10), 200 IM (3.04.08) and 100m freestyle (1.16.47), whilst Cumming produced PBs in the 200m freestyle (2.43.17), 100m backstroke (1.26.02), 200m backstroke (2.55.85), 200m IM (3.05.66), 400m freestyle (5.44.75) and 100m freestyle (1.16.61).
Simon Sweatman (11), who had already secured six MQTs before the weekend, chose to concentrate on just two events with a view of trying to secure more MQTs. Sweatman produced a fantastic display of power in the 100m fly to claim gold in 1.14.06 (PB) but more importantly in doing so achieved the MQT which he had been so close all season.
His second event saw him chasing the 200m breaststroke MQT, with Sweatman producing a 3.04.81 for silver which, despite being a personal best, was unfortunately less than a second outside the required MQT.
William Gearey was also amongst the medals in the boys 11-year-old age group, winning five golds and three silvers. Gearey looked in strong form just ahead of the Midlands, producing PBs in most events and lowering six of his existing MQTS, winning golds in the 200m IM (2.41.09), 200m freestyle (2.21.30), 100m backstroke (1.14.54), 50m breaststroke (40.31) and 50m freestyle (29.49) and silvers in the 200m backstroke (2.36.97), 400m freestyle (5.00.70) and 400m IM (5.40.52).
Naomi Marsden (12) finally secured her first MQT of the season with a stunning performance in the 100m backstroke. Marsden, who had been so close for the last three months to getting the required time, produced a massive PB of 1.14.61 to ensure her place at the Midlands Championships in June and also did it on her birthday!
Marsden picked up a gold medal in the 50m backstroke with a 34.47 (PB) and was unlucky not to secure a second MQT in the 200m backstroke (2.44.55).
Chris Vizard (12) has been in sparkling form in the last few months and smashing personal best across the board. Vizard produced a series of strong swims and was unlucky not to get amongst the medals, notching up 3.12.33 in the 200m breaststroke, 2.27.02 in the 200m freestyle, 1.19.71 in the 100m backstroke, 36.00 in the 50m fly and 5.51.48 in the gruelling 400m IM.
Jasmine Taite continues to show significant improvement in the 13-year-old category. Against some quality opposition, Taite (13) produced four personal bests in the 100m fly (1.19.47), 200m freestyle (2.33.79), 100m freestyle (1.07.38) and 50m backstroke (35.81).
The final member of the Pershore squad, Beth Carter, was also looking to rack up another MQT in her specialist breaststroke event. Carter (14), who has already secured a MQT in the 100m breaststroke, was hoping to add the longer 200m breaststroke to her collection.
She produced a very strong swim in the 200m breaststroke to claim a bronze medal in new PB of 2.55.97, but just outside the MQT. Carter also added bronze medals in the 100m breaststroke (1.21.74) and 50m breaststroke (36.88) to finish off a great weekend for Pershore.