PERSHORE Swimming Club took a young squad of nine to 14-year-olds to Cheltenham for round two of the PGL Junior League in which opposition on the night came in the form of much larger clubs including Redditch, Bromsgrove and hosts Cheltenham.
The PGL development was seen as the ideal opportunity to introduce younger swimmers to gala competition. Speeding tickets are handed out to swimmers who swim too fast on the night – with no points scored – so a skilful coach will judge the swimmers whose speed and ability is just right for each event.
Pershore got off to a blistering start, with a great time of 35.00 by Josh Sharratt in the 13/14-year 50m fly, a little too quick though as he picked up a speeding ticket and the points did not count.
Next came three straight wins – Hannah Simister with 36.95 in the 13/14-year 50m fly, Ronan Williams (39.45) and Lauren Annis (40.80) in the 12/U 50m backstroke – which put Pershore in the driving seat.
Owen Kirby (22.11) and Olivia O’Sullivan (21.86) produced fine swims too, grabbing second spots in the 11/U 25m breaststroke.
Pershore quickly racked up three more quick wins, with the boys 10/U medley relay team finding form in a time of 1.26.13, Ethan Stanley (19.38) blazing a trail in the 9-year 25m freestyle and Martha Cross (18.97) unbeatable in the same girls’ event.
More great results followed, with Amy Cooper (36.59) recording a win in the 13/14-year 50m backstroke, a win for the girls’ 12/U medley relay team of Olivia Howard, Caitlin Yates, Izzy Cumming and Holly Winkley (1.12.13), a second for the boys’ 12/U medley relay team (1.21.40) of Ronan Williams, Hamish Cross, Kieran Cooper and Owen Kirby and an unstoppable Cameron Leach bringing home the bacon in the 11/U 25m freestyle event in 16.26.
At this stage of the gala, Pershore had taken a narrow five-point lead from Cheltenham, before a string of great results followed.
Tamara Marsden (21.78) and Gabriella Barry (25.14) took second places in the 10/U 25m fly and 9-year 25m breaststroke respectively, with a great win for David Annis (24.69) in the 9-year 25m breaststroke and some fine swims in the boys’ (1.09.83) and girls’ (1.09.83) 13/14 medley relays to grab a second place and win respectively.
Despite this, after 20 events, Pershore’s lead was down to just two points from Cheltenham.
Kieran Cooper notched up another win for Pershore with a 44.95 in the 12/U 50m breaststroke, but this was followed by a couple of speeding tickets for the club.
More success came quickly though, with second places for Harry Wycherley (18.47) in the 25m 10/U freestyle, Andrew Thorner (24.75) in the 9-year 25m backstroke, Luke Perry (40.54) swimming the 50m 13/14-year breaststroke, Amy Cooper (43.85) in the corresponding girls’ event, Izzy Cumming (24.89) in the 12/U 50m freestyle and Amelia Gearey in the 10/U 25m backstroke, posting 22.91.
After 30 events, Cheltenham had taken the lead with 85 points, but Pershore were not far behind on 80.
More great wins came from Hamish Cross (34.40) in the 12/U 50m freestyle, James Heeks (22.00) in the 25m 10/U backstroke and from both the boys’ (1.17.23) and girls’ (1.16.91) 11/U medley relay teams of Ronan Williams, Owen Kirby, Kieran Cooper and Ned Meredith and Olivia Howard, Sophie Thomas, Macey French and Olivia O’Sullivan.
Pershore nudged into an uneasy lead of 112 points from Cheltenham’s 109 after 40 races.
Luke Perry secured a win in 31.16 in taking the 13/14-year 50m freestyle and then both Kieran Cooper (37.94) and Caitlin Yates (40.10) took top spots in the 12/U 50m fly.
A strong swim from Isobel Fairchild saw her take second in the 25m 11/U backstroke, however, after 50 events, Cheltenham looking untouchable on 139 points from Pershore’s 132.
Pershore rallied and called for some great performances from their freestyle relay teams in the final ten events and swimmers pulled out all the stops to get the points required.
Wins came in seven out of the final ten events – girls’ (1.02.70) 13/14, boys’ (1.06.25) girls’ (1.06.31) 11/Us, 9-year mixed swimmers (1.17.38), girls’ 12/U’s (1.04.73) and both the boys’ (2.45.61) and girls’ (2.45.27) mixed age group ten-length cannon races.
Tensions mounted amongst swimmers, and supporters, as the result was awaited, and there was a huge cheer when the final result was announced.
Pershore sealed victory by just four points, scoring 166 to Cheltenham’s 162. Redditch took third on the night, with Bromsgrove fourth.
Other swimmers helping Pershore to victory were Oliver Smith, Leo Rendell-Baker, Lewis Cribbin, Will Clarke, Georgia Winkley, Amy Cross, Helena Leach and Lara Meredith.