PERSHORE Swimming Club’s PGL League campaign ended in glory as they triumphed at Gloucester’s GL1 pool in the final with a highly impressive 322 points.
Having qualified for the final for the sixth consecutive year, Pershore had high of hopes of at least replicating their previous highest finishing position of third.
Head coach Tom Naughton chose a team of 35 swimmers aged between nine and 14 to represent the club against Stourbridge, Oldbury, Northgate, Redditch, Worcester, Bromsgrove and Cheltenham for the prestigious title.
With a packed spectator gallery in fine voice, the final commenced confidently with the boys and girls 13/14-year 50m butterfly races in which Pershore were represented by Lewis Cribbin and Ellie Williams who both swam strongly to post Pershore’s first points of the afternoon.
This was swiftly followed by an excellent second place from Kian Baker in the 12U boys 50m backstroke in 41.47. Pershore did not have to wait long for their first win, provided by Catherine Rendall-Baker in the girls event with an excellent 40.09 and maximum points.
Victories rapidly followed from Phillipa Taylor in the girls 25m breaststroke in 21.65 and from the girls medley relay team of Millie Thomas, Nikki English, Mia Underwood and Maisie Beach who collectively swam a super-fast 1.21.43 to touch first.
Pershore managed to get through the first ten events without picking up any speeding tickets but this soon changed at event 11 where Ollie Smith swam a two-second PB in the boys 50m backstroke in an impressive time of 33.02.
A string of excellent swims from Tara Smith, Jessica English, Jack Porter, William O’Sullivan and Sophia Lawson followed and everyone waited nervously for the points after 20 events.
A huge cheer erupted when it was announced Pershore were leading with 112 points, closely followed by Worcester in second on 107 and Northgate third with 94.
Pershore started the middle third of the competition with a speeding ticket in the boys medley relay. The team of Ollie Smith, Alfie Brown, Leo Rendall-Baker and James Heeks swam their way to a speeding offence in a blistering time of 1.02.19.
Not to be outdone, the girls team of Oliver Weaver, Caitlyn Yates, Tara Smith and Emilia Fowles were triumphant in a time of 1.06.85.
Superb swims from Jack Porter and Mia Underwood in boys and girls 25m butterfly races provided maximum points as both posting winning times of 19.25 seconds.
Alfie Parkington and Lena Wrzysczcz replicated this in the boys and girls 25m backstroke events as both convincingly won in times of 24.88 and 22.52 respectively.
Natalija Kelly convincingly won the girls 50m freestyle in 33.29 and gained a badge of honour speeding ticket in the girls 11U 100m medley relay together with team-mates Jessica English, Chloe Barnard and Phillipa Taylor.
James Heeks concluded the middle third of the competition in the same manner it was started with an awesome swim in the boys 13/14 50m freestyle, swimming a fabulous PB 30.50 to earn himself a speeding ticket.
Silence fell when the announcer prepared the crowd for the impending points tally. After 40 events Pershore had extended their lead with a whopping 224 points. Northgate were second on 196 and Worcester third on 171.
The Pershore supporters were cheering loudly as the final third of the gala began with yet another speeding ticket from Olivia Weaver in the girls 50m freestyle in a blistering 32.30.
This meant Pershore’s rivals Northgate had gained maximum points (eight) over the South Worcestershire team and more drama followed to add to the tension when Millie Thomas posted an impressive time of 39.88 in the girls 12U 50m butterfly to land another speeding ticket.
Pershore nervously got through the next few events with lovely swims from Harry Barnett in the boys 25m backstroke 20.93, Chloe Barnard in the girls event, 20.12, and Charlie Deary in the boys 25m breaststroke, 25.44. The nerves were calming when Mia Underwood stepped up to record an awesome 22.97 speeding ticket in the girls 25m breastroke in 22.97.
Event 50 marked the final leg of the gala with the exciting freestyle relays. Pershore’s coaching staff Naughton, Marie Porter, Daina Kelly and Ceris Styler briefed their team about effective relay takeovers and there was no room for error.
Pershore swimmers showed focus and determination throughout, picking up no DQs, a valuable win and a speeding ticket and, as the final two events began, the boys and girls cannon races, the atmosphere was frenzied.
With Pershore finishing second in both cannon races, nobody knew who had won and everyone nervously awaited the final result. After a short wait, it was announced in reverse order and Pershore were triumphant on 322 points, above runners-up Northgate on 313 and third-placed Worcester on 282.
Pershore supporters, swimmers and coaches jubilantly erupted as the team made their way around the pool to collect the enormous trophy for the first time in the club’s history.
Head coach Naughton said: “I would firstly like to congratulate Worcester and Redditch for swimming in the way in which this competition is supposed to be swam. The spirit of the competition is to encourage young swimmers to develop and become involved in swimming.
“The PGL is an excellent competition which runs over a six-month period, giving coaches the opportunity to introduce as many young swimmers as possible to competitive swimming.
“Pershore was able to offer 80 per cent of its young swimmers the opportunity to swim in a competitive environment. The win was a victory for all of those swimmers and the excellent team of coaching volunteers.”
The Pershore team was William O’Sullivan, Toby Marchant, Tom Porter, Alfie Parkington, Emma Taylor, Maisie Beach, Sophia Lawson, Lena Wrzysczcz, Josh Heeks, Charlie Deery, Mia Underwood, Millie Thomas, Nikki English, Matthew Franks, Jack Porter, Toby Stanley, Phillipa Taylor, Jessica English, Natalija Kelly, Chloe Barnard, Kian Baker, Lewis Cribbin, George Howard, Ellie Williams, Olivier Weaver, Catherine Rendall-Baker, James Heeks, Ollie Smith, Alfie Brown, Leo Rendall-Baker, Caitlyn Yates, Tara Smith, Emilia Fowles.