FOR THE second year running Pershore Swimming Club took a team to the Netherlands International Meet at the impressive Pieter van den Hoogenband pool complex in Eindhoven.
Competing against swimmers from over 60 other clubs from around Europe and from as far afield as the USA, China and Indonesia, the Pershore squad of 22 swimmers aged between eight and 15 performed strongly.
The Eindhoven stadium comprises of a 25m pool for the under 12 swimmers and 50m international pool for older swimmers. All compete in four events on both Saturday and Sunday day, watched by hundreds of enthusiastic and noisy spectators, and many of the Pershore swimmers were competing at this level and abroad for the first time.
The 25m short course pool started proceedings, with Pershore’s youngest competitors Francesca Barry, Millie Thomas and Jess English finding themselves in the same heat and they battled hard against each other to post numerous personal best times over the weekend.
Amelia Gearey, Sophie Thomas and Charlotte Downey then took up the challenge and continued to add more PBs with great swims in all strokes, while Tara Smith earned PBs in all eight of her events.
Caitlin Yates and Gabriella Barry also were in excellent form, as both girls gained coveted County Qualifying Times (CQTs) for the 2016 Worcestershire Championships.
Macey French and Alexandra Barry were two other swimmers recording new CQTs, with Barry rewarded for her efforts by winning a bronze medal in the 50m backstroke event (35.15).
Among the Pershore boys, Ollie Smith competed for the first time in Holland and seemed at home in these surroundings and performed heroically, again grabbing a handful of PBs, whilst Cameron Leach swam well to claim two PBs and more importantly a new CQT.
In the 50m long course pool, Helena Leach opened proceedings with a great PB in the 100m butterfly. This settled any nerves and more PBs followed both for her and the other members of the team, including some swimmers who have only just moved up to the 50m long course format.
Hannah Simister was next up and grabbed a PB, then went on to get her first ever CQT in 50m freestyle and added two more CQTs with strong displays.
Jamie West and Josh Sharratt both had good swims to set more PBs, as did Luke Perry who notched up several CQTs. Chris Vizard continued his recent strong run of form, smashing numerous PBs and adding more CQTs to his haul.
More medals were to come for Pershore as Simon Sweatman again delivered the goods. Sweatman showed his class in this premier international meet, with his best performance coming in the 100m backstroke as he won the gold medal in 1.09.21. He then added silver medals in 200m backstroke (2.26.04), 50m backstroke (32.66) and 100m fly (1.10.02).
Naomi Marsden also got on the podium, winning bronze in the 50m backstroke (34.36) and 200m backstroke (2.39.97), then stunning her coach as she pulled out the performance of the weekend to win silver in the 50m fly (32.90, PB).
Pershore swimmers finished the event with 112 PBs and an incredible haul of 55 new County Qualifying times for 2016.
Head coach Tom Naughton said: “I am so proud of all the swimmers! Our youngsters performed incredibly well and showed the next generation of talent coming through the ranks, whilst our older swimmers also proved they can mix it at international level too.”