VALE swimmer Will Gearey snatched a superb bronze medal – his first podium at national level – at the British Swimming Summer Championships at Ponds Forge in Sheffield.
The Summer Championships bring together the top 24 British swimmers across the different age groups and the Worcester SC member faced top opposition from specialist swimming schools and major city clubs around the country.
Competing in his second British Championship in the boys’ 13/14-year age group, Prince Henry’s High School pupil Gearey had qualified for five events, hoping to qualify for the finals in at least three target events.
Gearey tackled the 100m freestyle first, knowing he needed a good performance to even make the final. Drawn in an outside lane in the heats, Gearey put down a 0.50 personal best to clock 56.11, which was sufficient to grab tenth spot for the final in the evening.
In the final, Gearey went out fast for the first 50m and again produced another PB, touching the wall in 56.03 for a fantastic sixth position.
His next event was the 50m freestyle, commonly known as the splash and dash, with Gearey again targeting a place in the final.
In the heats, going in ranked 13th, he produced 25.48 and another PB to qualify for the final as fifth seed. In the evening final, he managed to go quicker again with 25.40 but it was enough to get among the medals as Gearey finished a creditable seventh.
In the 100m fly and 200m freestyle, Gearey was disappointed not to produce any PBs but was pretty much on his entry times, producing times of 1.02.56 and 2.05.75 respectively.
The 100m fly was always an outside bet as to whether he would reach the final and he was not expecting to make the 200m freestyle final.
Gearey’s final chance of a medal rested on the 50m fly – an event he had managed to reach the British final in last year whilst still only 13.
Having reached the championship ranked as 19th seed, he knew only a remarkable improvement on his entry time would get him into the final.
With another outside lane draw in the heats, Gearey flew off his blocks in the heat to touch the wall in first place in 27.24. Gearey’s heat time was a PB by nearly 0.50 seconds and amazingly saw him go into the final as third seed.
With a good lane draw in the evening, Gearey again had a strong start in the final, just about leading at the 25m stage. His rivals in lanes four and five, however, edged ahead of him in the last 25m, but Gearey managed to hold on to third place, finishing in a 27.01 PB to clinch the bronze medal.
Following his performance, Gearey has been invited to join the England Talent Programme run by Swim England as part of the national Pathway Programme.
He will also be representing Worcestershire in the Inter-County Championships in Sheffield in October.