PERSHORE swimming sensation Tazmin Pugh returned with a superb six medals to her name thanks to some terrific performances at her biggest international event to date.
Fifteen-year-old Pugh, now on a scholarship at Ellesmere College, joined the town’s swimming club aged five and her rise to stardom has been impressive, culminating in representing England at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa this month.
Pugh, who was the second youngest member of the team and who won three individual medals and three team medals at the fifth staging of the Games, has expressed her thanks to everyone who has supported her during her time at Bowbrook House School, Abbey Park Middle and Pershore High School and in particular her latest sponsor Aquatots.co.uk based in Tewkesbury.
Pugh revealed she had been ‘slightly nervous’ ahead of representing her country in her first multi-sport championships amongst 1,000 other athletes aged between 14 and 18 from across the globe.
However, she was determined to use that adrenaline to help her succeed in what has been a steep learning curve during 2015. With several teams including Australia and New Zealand taking their World Junior Championship team straight from Singapore from just a week earlier, it was always going to be a tough ask at the Games.
FOLLOWING a week-long holding/training camp at Rotorua in New Zealand, Pugh was in action on the first day of competition in Samoa and finished near to her personal best and, although doing what she had to do and swimming quicker in the evening finals, she just missed out on a podium place in the 50m butterfly as she came fourth in 27.72.
She had to double up in the finals session almost immediately by competing in the 200m fly and again, although just shy of her PB, she fought back strongly in the last 50m to gain a bronze medal in 2:14.69 as Australian swimmer Gemma Cooney took gold with 2:13.51 and 17-year-old Meg Finnon of Scotland claimed silver with 2:14.21.
Bronze and team silver on second day
ON THE second day Pugh swam to her second hard fought bronze, marginally down on her regional record in the finals of the 400m individual medley in 4:53.65, but was in action soon afterwards in the 4x200m (800m) freestyle team relay with team-mates Georgina Boyle, Georgia Derwent and Darcy Deakin.
The four girls battled hard and were rewarded for their efforts with silver in a time of 8:15.93.
THE THIRD day saw Pugh appear a little jaded in the individual 100m fly (seventh in the final) but she rallied herself and took yet another relay team medal in the 4x100m freestyle as she won bronze in 3:50.83, just seven tenths of a second behind Wales in 2nd place, with Australia once again dominant in winning gold.
Bronze and team silver on the final day
ON THE final day Pugh thought there was little chance of a podium place in the 200m IM as she had not even entered this event at the British National Championships in August where she won seven out of seven golds and had recorded the sixth fastest time in the heats.
In making the finals, however, it was just the fillip she needed to swim her lifetime best and take her third individual bronze medal of the Games in 2:19.30.
Pugh followed this in the final relay 4x100m medley in which she swam the butterfly leg, with Brittany Horton (City of Birmingham) starting off in the backstroke, Layla Black (following her two golds and a bronze) swimming the breaststroke leg and Georgina Boyle (Chelsea & Westminster) bringing them home in the freestyle leg as England eventually took silver after some great swimming by the quartet.
This helped England take second place overall in the pool with 25 medals – six gold, nine silver and ten bronze – behind a dominant Australia team.
It was a happy England camp as every one of their dozen swimmers won at least one medal, with three taking five and Pugh clinching six.
Head coach Alan Bircher said: “Taz has done a fantastic job this season. We set goals and markers all through the season and she’s raised the bar for herself.
“She’s a real winner who hates losing and I know she’ll take up the challenge of the new season on her return.”