EIGHT youngsters from Pershore Swimming Club are set to compete at the British Gas Midlands Age Group Championships 2014 at Coventry’s international 50m pool – starting on June 7 for two weekends running.
This year’s team is a record number of entries for Pershore and its swimmers will be competing against the best age group competitors from nine other counties in the Midlands region including Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Northampton and Nottingham.
In the ten-year-old age group Patrick Heeks – the youngest member of the Pershore team – will be competing at the championships for the first time.
Heeks, who has made massive improvements to his times in the last six months, has qualified for the 100m backstroke (1.20.67) and 200m backstroke (2.49.62) and is ranked in the top five for his two events.
He has had a fantastic 2014 already, winning his first county gold medals earlier in the year and also receiving his first Worcester County call-up.
In the 11-year-old age group William Gearey has qualified strongly in a staggering ten events including the 100m freestyle (1.04.56), 200m freestyle (2.21.30), 400m freestyle (5.00.70), 100m backstroke (1.14.54), 200m backstroke (2.36.97), 100m breaststroke (1.30.34), 200m breaststroke (3.07.59), 100m fly (1.17.29), 200m IM (2.41.09) and 400m IM (5.40.52).
Gearey will hopefully be a serious challenger for medals in his favoured freestyle and backstroke events and is ranked in the top five in several of the events going into his first championships.
Megan Annis is another newcomer to the district competition, having qualified in the 100m backstroke in 1:16.75. Annis also received her first County call-up in May this year and currently ranks number one in the county in several strokes including the 50m freestyle, 50m breaststroke, 50m backstroke and 100m backstroke.
Breaststroke specialist Isabella Woodcock will be looking to get into the medals again in the 100m event. Woodcock, who won silver at the 100m breaststroke at the 2013 championships, has qualified with a time of 1:27.25 and again looks a strong contender. She tops the county rankings for both 50m and 100m breaststroke.
In the 12-year-old age group Simon Sweatman has qualified in multiple events and will be looking to build on his 2014 county success when he swept the board with a staggering 16 gold medals.
Sweatman, who has competed twice before at the district championships, bagging a bronze in the 100m freestyle in 2013, will be competing in the 100 freestyle (1:04.80), 200m freestyle (2:21.70), 400m freestyle (4:59.82), 100m fly (1:14.06), 100m backstroke (1:12.34), 200m backstroke (2:33.97), 200m IM (2:40.73) and 400 IM (5:37.72).
Naomi Marsden and Amy Weston have both qualified for the 100m backstroke. This is the second time Marsden has qualified for the championships, clocking up a time of 1.14.60 to secure her place. She is currently ranked number one in the 50m backstroke in the county.
It will be Weston’s first appearance at the Midlands, having achieved a great qualifying time of 1:15.11 at this year’s Counties.
The 14-year-old age group will feature Beth Carter, who joined Pershore from Evesham earlier in the year.
Carter is another breaststroke specialist within the club and will be competing in the 100m breaststroke with an entry time of 1.19.99.
Commenting ahead of the championships, Pershore’s head coach Tom Naughton said: “I’m very proud of all the swimmers going to compete at Coventry and, for a club of our size, it is a fantastic achievement.
“We know it’s going to be extremely tough to get amongst the medals with the standard of the competition, but I’m sure Pershore will surprise people as we usually do!”