VALE swimming star Tazmin Pugh turned on the style to become a national champion at the English Schools’ Swimming Association Inter-Divisional Championships in Bristol.
Fourteen-year-old Pugh was one of five selected from her school at Ellesmere College to swim for the West Midlands against seven other English regions at the 64th staging of the championships, which attract the top competitors from both state and independent sector schools.
Chosen from the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) rankings, to have five swimmers from just one school is a tribute and great honour and possibly unprecedented in the West Midlands, although one likely to be repeated if not bettered in the future by the young talent at Ellesmere College.
Ably supported by her school, Pugh was selected to swim in two individual events – the 100m and 200m butterfly – together with the medley and freestyle relays.
In the 100m fly Pugh threw down a marker to her competitors she will be meeting at the National Age Group Championships in three weeks’ time having qualified to compete in ten events.
She not only won her race in style by over three seconds but with a new personal best time of 1:02.82 she broke the oldest English Schools record on the books – which has stood since 2007 – by 1.12 seconds.
The time is the 11th fastest of all time for a 14-year-old girl and only just behind international aces and Olympians such as Ellen Gandy, Jessica Dickons (ex-Ellesmere Titans swimmer), Fran Halsall, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, Jemma Lowe and the present record holder Amelia Clynes, who she will meet in Sheffield at the National Championships.
In the 4x100m medley relay Pugh helped her team to a bronze medal by swimming the fastest butterfly leg of all eight teams.
On the second day of the championships, Pugh once again led straight from the start in her individual 200m fly, coming home six seconds ahead of the North East region in second place in a time of 2:18.68, missing breaking another English Schools record by just three hundredths of a second.
In the West Midlands 4x100m freestyle team relay Pugh dived in on the second leg and brought her team back into contention from sixth place to third and then eventually to finish second.
It also meant Pugh was hot on the heels of repeating her Midland Championships success by winning a medal in every event she was involved in – another fine achievement as well as being proclaimed English all-schools junior champion twice over.
Despite the Ellesmere students bringing home ten medals between them, the North East emerged as the eventual overall winners ahead of the North West, South East and London, with the West Midlands in fifth place, but ahead of the East, South West and East Midlands.
With Evesham’s Chloe Golding competing in the European Junior Championships, another swimmer in the European Open Water Championships, 11 in the National Age Group Championships and seven in the National Youth Championships all coming up in the next month, it is a busy time for everyone in the team to remain focused on the job in hand.