THIRTY-FIVE Pershore Swimming Club members rose to the challenge to finish a best ever third in the PGL final at Gloucester’s GL1 Leisure Centre.
Pershore swimmers arrived having qualified in third place, with only the top eight teams in the league making the final.
A loud, capacity crowd of more than 300 that crammed into the GL1 seating to support the young swimmers from Bridgnorth & Smethwick in the north down to Pershore in the south.
Lane draw was set by the points performance in the four qualifying rounds leading up to the final, which consisted of 60 events featuring boys and girls from nine to the 13/14-year age group.
In this league, speeding tickets are issued to swimmers who swim faster than the entry time – meaning that they do not get any points. They are considered a badge of honour among swimmers, but do not help the team performance, meaning some tactical team choices are required from coaches.
Pershore got off to a belting start with some great swims and after 20 events were leading with 103 points. Worcester were a close second with 99 and Northgate third with 95.
Pershore speeding tickets were recorded by Ronan Williams (13, 50m fly), Molly Beech (11, 25m breaststroke), Matthew Franks (10, 25m freestyle), Olivia Howard (13, 50m breaststroke), Millie Thomas (9, 25m backstroke and 25m fly), the 10-year boys’ medley relay team comprising Harry Barnett (10), Matthew Franks (10), James Heek (10) and Toby Stanley (10) and the 13/14-year girls’ medley relay team comprising Olivia Howard (13), Sophie Thomas (13), Olivia O’Sullivan (13) and Tara Smith (13).
After 40 events and many speeding tickets, Pershore had slipped to fourth on 180 points. Leading were Worcester on 203.
Pershore enjoyed an impressive number of race victories which were as follows: Tara Smith (13/14-year 50m fly, 36.99s and 50m freestyle,32.97s), Daniel Chalk (12/u 50m backstroke, 40.36s), Frankie Barry (9/u 25m freestyle, 18.13s), Jack Porter (10/u 25m fly, 20.42s and 25m breaststroke, 24.12s), Mia Underwood (9/u 25m breaststroke, 24.45s), Olivia Weaver (12/u 50m breaststroke, 46.85s), Harry Barnett (10/u 25m backstroke, 20.96s).
The relay teams chalked up some important victories too: Boys’ 12/u 100m medley – Daniel Chalk (12), Lewis Cribbin (12), Oliver Smith (12) and James Heeks (12); Girls’ 13/14 100m freestyle – Sophie Thomas (13), Olivia O’Sullivan (13), Tara Smith (13), Olivia Howard (13); Boys’ 12/u 100m freestyle – Daniel Chalk (12), Lewis Cribbin (12), Oliver Smith (12) and James Heeks (12).
There were 12 Pershore victories to savour, but as ever it came down to the last two nail-biting races – the cannon relay races – in which two swimmers of each age group – 9, 10, 11, 12, 13/14 (10 swimmers) – swim their fastest.
Pershore secured their best ever position of third with 281 points, agonisingly close to Worcester on 287, with Redditch worthy winners with 314 points.
Other members of the Pershore team contributing to the result were: Ronan Williams (13), Emilia Fowles (12), George Howard (11), Pippa Taylor (10), Chloe Barnard (10), Jess English (10), Ioan Underwood (9), Catherine Rendall-Baker (11), Annie Garratt (12), Holly Styler (12), Ethan Stanley (11), Alfie Brown (13), Andrew Thorner (11), Ethan Mallaburn (9), Lottie Styler (9), Ellie Williams (11), Martha Cross (11), Leo Rendall-Baker (13).