EVESHAM student Will Gearey started his 2017 season with a superb performance at the Worcestershire County Championships as he won eight gold medals in as many events at Wolverhampton Central Baths.
Fourteen-year-old Gearey, who represents Worcester Swimming Club, was competing in the boys’ U14 age group and faced strong opposition from the likes of Pershore, Stourbridge, City of Hereford and Droitwich swimmers.
With four events plus sprint finals on both Saturday and Sunday, Gearey’s opening event on Saturday morning was the 50m fly in which he qualified for the final as first seed with 28.20.
In the final, Gearey powered to a clear victory from the gun, hitting the wall in 28.19 for his first gold medal of the 2017 championships.
Next up was the technical 200m breaststroke. Attacking the first 100m, Gearey looked comfortable but just outside his personal best split time.
The final 100m, however, proved to be tough, with Gearey struggling to find his rhythm, touching the wall in 2.44.30 (three seconds off his PB) but enough to take the gold medal.
Saturday afternoon saw Gearey tackling the 100m fly and 100m backstroke and, with finals in both, competitors had to gauge how hard to push it in the heats to qualify.
In the 100m fly, Gearey put down a rapid 1.02.77, qualifying almost seven seconds ahead of his nearest rival. The 100m backstroke was always going to be a much closer affair though, with Gearey again qualifying fastest in 1.05.79 but a rival from Wyre Forest was only .40 off this time.
In the 100m fly final, Gearey dominated the race from the start, turning at the 50m mark with quite a lead before extending his lead in the final two lengths, taking the gold medal with 1.02.87.
In the 100m backstroke final, Gearey knew he was going to be pushed hard by the backstroke specialist from Wyre Forest and it proved to be a close race. In the first 50m, there was little to split the two swimmers, with Gearey slightly ahead of his Wyre Forest rival.
At the 75m mark, Gearey had opened a lead, using his turns to full effect, producing a new PB time of 1.04.25 for his fourth gold medal.
Day two’s programme again included breaststroke and backstroke, with the 100m breaststroke the first event. Gearey produced a steady swim of 1.15.82 to qualify in first position for the final.
Next up was the 200m backstroke – an event which Gearey has been making significant improvements in over last 12 months. Looking to dip under 2.18 for the first time, Gearey was drawn in the final and fastest heat.
Seemingly unfazed by the older opposition, Gearey went out fast, turning in third place at the halfway point. In the last 100m, Gearey again used his turns and underwater work to full advantage, clawing back the Warley Wasps swimmer lying in second to clock a new PB time of 2.17.87.
Incredibly his performance saw him not only take gold in the 14/under age group but silver in the open category too.
In the 100m breaststroke, Gearey took his sixth gold medal, producing a time of 1.14.78 to beat his nearest rival from Pershore by four seconds.
After a busy weekend schedule, the last two events on Sunday afternoon were the 50m backstroke and 200m freestyle. Gearey again qualified for the 50m backstroke final in first position with a time of 30.83, just ahead of his team-mate from Worcester and the Wyre Forest swimmer.
In the 200m freestyle, the weekend’s swimming seemed to takes it toll on Gearey who, despite clear fatigue, still produced a 2.08.61 which was enough to secure gold but quite a bit off his personal best.
The last event of the day saw Gearey going for his eighth gold in the 50m backstroke and looking to maintain a 100 per cent record in the championships.
With his challengers pushing hard in the lanes next to him, Gearey had a superb start to lead after 15m and then powered to his first ever sub-30 performance to take victory in 29.97.
Gearey now faces another busy programme at the second weekend of the County Championships when he will be hoping to add more gold medals to his impressive haul.