THE RECENT five-day ASA National Age Group Swimming Championships in Sheffield proved an occasion to savour for Vale swimmer Tazmin Pugh as she and her Ellesmere College Titans team-mates pitted their wits against the elite swimmers in the UK with guts, determination, pride and a great deal of success.
Fourteen-year-old Pugh enjoyed a superb medal haul, even though the injury she carried into the championships led to her coaches restricting her to competing in seven of the ten events she had qualified for.
Pugh’s first success came on the first day with a silver in the 200m individual medley (50m each of fly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle). She qualified in the morning heats in second place, although obviously retaining enough energy to go two seconds quicker in the evening finals in a new personal best time of 2:20.26, just one second behind British junior international and multi-gold medallist phenomenon Holly Hibbott from Southport.
Pugh now sits in first place in the UK in the end of year rankings, with many of her fellow competitors having their birthday before the year ends.
Pugh takes national title
GAINING in confidence on the second day Pugh – who also swims at Worcester Swimming Club and welcomes the decision to look at expanding the plans for at least an eight-lane competition pool at Perdiswell – went one better.
She won her first ever ASA National Age Group title in the 400m IM. Pugh played it ‘cannily’, taking fourth place in the heats in 5:03.82, but put on the after-burners in the evening finals, improving by a staggering seven seconds to take the title in another new personal best time of 4:56.45 (1st UK rankings).
Pugh employed similar tactics by coming eighth in the heats of the 100m butterfly, still with heavy legs from the previous 400m IM immediately before. After a few hours’ rest, she went into the finals and immediately impressed when from one of the outside lanes she finished in silver medal position in another nail-biting sprint to the line in a new PB of 1:02.44, just behind Hibbott once again (1st UK rankings).
Pugh wins her fourth medal
BUOYED by this new experience of not just making finals but enjoying the podium presentations, she claimed her fourth medal in the 200m butterfly. She was one of three girls who pushed for victory in the final but lost out on the touch, having to content herself with bronze in yet another personal best of 2:17.91 (1st UK).
Even when not winning medals Pugh was still recording PBs, exemplified in her last individual race by qualifying for the final in ninth place with a new PB in the 400m freestyle before finishing in a gutsy fifth place with an even better four-second PB of 4:25.64 (5th UK).
As well as her individual events, Pugh joined Ellesmere Titans team-mates Hannah Knight, Murrin Dalrymple and Ellinor Southward in three relays, the pick of which was the 4x200m as they made it through the heats in sixth place.
In the finals which followed Pugh led her team out in a new personal best of 2:06.98 (4th UK) and the team finished an agonising 0.3 seconds behind the bronze medal position in fourth place.
Pugh appreciates all the support from family and friends, both in Pershore and beyond, and has been inundated with messages saying how many were watching the live stream video coverage from Sheffield from as far afield as New Zealand.
She would especially like to thank the Joanna Brown Trust Grant, Team Super Schools, Worcester Swimming Club and its head coach Mark Stowe, Ellesmere College and Titans’ head coach Alan Bircher and his team.
In the accumulated points in the British Age Group Category (BAGcats) Pugh finished fourth overall in the 14-year girl division (and top girl from the region), who themselves were representing approximately the top one per cent of competitive swimmers in the country.
Tazmin Pugh (centre) shows off her gold medal. (s)