VALE swimming star Will Gearey maintained his 100 per cent record at the Worcestershire County Swimming Championships at Wolverhampton Central Baths where he won a further seven golds in the second and final weekend of competition.
The haul took the Prince Henry’s High School pupil’s overall total to 15 golds from as many events in the boys’ 14-year age group.
First up for Worcester Swimming Club’s Gearey on Saturday was the 100m individual medley in which he just needed to qualify for the final.
Looking comfortable in the heats, Gearey qualified in first place with in 1.06.25. In the morning final, Gearey went out much harder in the fly, taking the leading at the first 25m before extending his lead on the backstroke and the breaststroke, before touching for gold in a 1.04.60 and a small personal best.
Gearey also tackled the 400m freestyle in the morning, with no final and heat declared winners (HDW). With his main challenge coming from a Stourbridge swimmer, Gearey knew what time he had to beat as he had just seen his rival in the heat before.
The first 200m were on his PB time for short course, with the back 200m just off his best time. Gearey had done enough though to claim gold in 4.27.90, nearly ten seconds ahead of the second placed swimmer.
After a tough 400m freestyle, Gearey then faced the prospect of the 50m breaststroke final for which he had again qualified in first position. With his usual good start, Gearey found himself ahead at the 25m stage, although you could clearly see him fighting fatigue against some of the swimmers with fresher arms.
Digging deep in the last 25m, he held off a late surge from his Pershore rival to take gold comfortably in 34.10, although the time was outside his PB.
The last day of the championships included some of Gearey’s favourite events, including the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley.
The Sunday morning session saw Gearey tackling one of the hardest events – the 400m individual medley – in which he was hoping to dip under the magic five-minute barrier for the first time.
At the halfway point, he looked on course to break his PB with strong fly and backstroke legs. Despite putting in an improved breaststroke leg, Gearey unfortunately tied up on the final 100m freestyle, but still took gold in 5.02.40 – again a small PB.
In the 50m freestyle, Gearey swam 26.55 which was enough to qualify in first and secure a premium lane draw. In the final, Gearey really went for it in the first 25m, turning in first place from a challenger from Oldbury and then pushing hard for the wall to take gold in 25.77.
The final session included the 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley. First up was qualification for the 100m final as again Gearey kept some effort back in reserve, clocking 59.22 for first place.
Next up was the 200m individual medley and Gearey found himself in the final heat with much older and faster swimmers. His opening 50m fly saw Gearey keep touch in fifth position and he maintained fifth after the backstroke.
However, he was overtaken by a breaststroke specialist from Warley Wasps on the third leg, with it all to do on the freestyle.
Gearey managed one final effort on the last 50m freestyle, clawing back the Wasps swimmer to finish in 2.21.55 and a very respectable fifth place in the overall open age group.
With just the 100m freestyle final to go, Gearey knew that winning this last race would give him the 15 wins he was chasing.
Going in as favourite, Gearey exploded off the blocks to race into a clear lead at the 50m point, with his rivals already two metres off his pace. He then continued to power away from the field to take his last gold in 56.21 and complete a remarkable programme.
Gearey has his sights set on qualifying in several events at this year’s British Summer Championships in Sheffield at the end of July.
The national long course qualification window opens in March and Gearey has a busy schedule ahead, with his first event in Bristol where he will be looking to produce some good times to get him into the top 24 in the British rankings (boys’ 14-year age group).
He will also be heading to May’s West Midlands Championships in Coventry where he will be looking to get among the medals.