A QUARTET of Vale swimmers helped their respective clubs to glory at the premier British Summer Championships at Ponds Forge in Sheffield.
The event features the top 24 ranked swimmers in each of the 17 events across the 13/14, 15, 16, 17/18 and 19+ age groups and among them were Ellesmere College Titans trio Tazmin Pugh, Chloe Golding and Harry Bamforth – all from the Vale – as is Will Gearey who represented Worcester Swimming Club.
More than 600 athletes from in excess of 100 clubs competed including 22 from the Shropshire-based Titans following their superb qualifying times in the designated eight-week window British Swimming had invoked.
It was not expected 16-year-old Pugh could ever repeat her record-breaking success of the previous year when she won seven gold medals from seven events but, with eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals contributing to the Titans’ able-bodied medal haul of 43, she did just that as Titans won nearly twice as many as any other club.
Pugh and Golding were both in action on day one in the women’s 400m individual medley and Pugh (4:51.98) won gold for the 16-year group and Golding made it through to the finals to take ninth in the 17/18 age as their team-mates won a further two golds.
On day two again the two Vale girls were in action in the 100m backstroke in which Golding went on to take her first UK title with 1:01.54 and Pugh clinched bronze in 1:02.72.
On the same day Pugh also went on to to take silver in the 50m butterfly in 27.64 and watched her team-mates win another four golds.
Day three pitted Bamforth in action in the men’s 1,500m freestyle in which he finished tenth in the 16-year group with 16:51.46.
Pugh fought her way through to the evening finals of the 200m butterfly and eventually secured gold in a time of 2:14.71, whilst the Titans’ 4x200m women’s freestyle relay team secured a finals spot as first placed seeds.
Pugh was brought in to bolster the team on the first leg and swam 2:03.27. This was followed by her team-mates swimming their own PBs to record a time of 8:14.50 on their way to gold and a new ‘open’ West Midlands team relay record.
On day four Pugh and Golding won their way through to the finals of the 200m backstroke in which Pugh took gold in 2:12.89, whilst club-mate Golding won silver with 2:12.90 in the 17/18-year age and another two golds were won by their team.
Bamforth was in action in his team’s 4x200m freestyle relay in which a finals place beckoned and all swam individual PBs to record 8:00.35 and secure a magnificent and unexpected seventh place.
Day five found Pugh in two finals and she won gold in the women’s 16-year 400m freestyle with 4:18.89 and bronze in the 50m backstroke as Golding came home in fourth place.
Meanwhile, Pugh was again brought into the finals in the 4x100m freestyle relay team which she led out in 57.13 as the team secured gold once again with a new West Midlands record of 3:49.30.
Gearey, 13, did himself proud swimming in the 13/14-year 50m freestyle as he set a new PB of 26.03.
On the final day of the championships, Gearey once again excelled as he improved his lifetime best in the heats of the men’s 50m butterfly down to 28.30 and finished seventh in the evening finals as he gained valuable experience for the Amateur Swimming Association National Swimming Championships (England), which are currently taking place (August 1-5).
These championships are for swimmers ranked 25-44 in England in their age groups and Gearey has been in action in another three events under the watchful eye of head coach Mark Stowe.
Also on the last day, Pugh made her eighth individual final of the week in the 100m butterfly as she went on to win her fifth individual gold of the championships with 1:01.09.
Once again Pugh was rested in the heats of the 4x100m medley relay but brought into the third butterfly leg for the final.
It was always going to be tight but the Titans quartet took their third British title by one hundredth of a second in 4:13.57 from their closest rivals City of Leeds (4:13.58), who finished with 28 medals.
Titans finished with 21 golds, 12 silver and ten bronze medals as they secured their place as the UK’s number one club – a feat achieved in less than ten years having been founded in 2008 by their director of swimming Jon Pardoe through the dedicated and hard work of not only their swimmers but also their coaching team led by Britain’s number one head coach Alan Bircher.