PERSHORE Swimming Club claimed three age group titles and smashed a 12-year-old record at this year’s Inter-Club County Relay Championships held at Wolverhampton.
Pershore bagged a phenomenal eight medals against some very strong and bigger clubs within the county including the likes of Worcester, Redditch and Stourbridge to come away with three gold medals, four silvers and a bronze.
In the 9/10 age group, the club’s girl and boy relays teams both secured podium finishes in the 4x50m freestyle and medley relay events. Pershore’s quartet of Macey French (10), Alexandra Barry (10), Hannah Woodcock (10) and Jasmine Franks (9) produced a fantastic display in the heats of the freestyle relay, qualifying in first place with an impressive time of 2.18.26 and over two seconds quicker than second placed Stourbridge back in 2.20.30.
Seeded number one in the final, the girls again produced another quick time of 2.18.30 but had to settle for silver as they were just edged out by a much-improved Stourbridge team who clocked 2.17.74 to snatch gold.
In the medley event, the same quartet was again in action, this time qualifying for the final in third place in 2.42.03 just behind Stourbridge and Redditch. A change to the team order for the final by head coach Tom Naughton proved an inspired move.
French powered down the backstroke leg to put Pershore into third place, with Woodcock on breaststroke taking the team up to second. Barry then produced a strong display on the fly, eating into Stourbridge’s lead before Franks brought the team home on the freestyle leg in 2.39.97 to grab a much-deserved silver.
The boys 9/10 team of Owen Kirby (10), Jamie Saunders (10), Cameron Leach (10) and Patrick Heeks (10) were also in good form in both their relay events. Kirby, making his debut at county level, proved to be unfazed and swam strongly to help the team to a silver medal in the freestyle relay in 2.24.32 behind a powerful Worcester team who broke the age group record.
In the medley, Heeks gave Pershore a lead on the backstroke with an excellent swim on the first leg, handing over to Leach on the breaststroke. At the 100m stage, Pershore found themselves in third with Saunders taking over on the fly and maintaining the team’s position despite a late surge. Kirby anchored the team to bronze with a strong swim, touching the wall in 2.49.22.
In the 11/12 age group, the boys’ relay team of William Gearey (11), Josh Sharratt (12), Simon Sweatman (12) and Chris Vizard (12) retained their county titles from two years ago by winning both the freestyle and medley events.
The heats of the freestyle saw the boys team smash the previous county record which had stood since 2002. Sharratt led the team off with a strong start after 50m, before handing over to Vizard who built the lead further before Sweatman extended the lead to about half a length.
It was just left to Gearey to bring the team home, clocking 1.58.77 (previous record was 2.00.86) and seeing them through as number one seeds in the final. In the final, the boys could not quite match their qualifying time but still produced another excellent time of 1.58.85 to take their first county title of the day.
In the medley event, Pershore again qualified fastest through the heats with second seeds Ledbury only just 0.16 slower. Rising to the challenge in the final, Sweatman powered the team to a clear lead in the backstroke, with Vizard producing another strong breaststroke leg to keep them ahead of Ledbury and Stourbridge.
Gearey produced a PB in the fly leg to extend the team’s lead, before Sharratt on anchor showed much composure as he brought the team their second county title with a time of 2.18.60.
The girls’ 11/12 team of Megan Annis (11), Charlotte Downey (11), Naomi Marsden (12) and Isabella Woodcock (11) faced tough opposition from strong teams from Worcester, Stourbridge and Redditch. The Pershore team qualified for the freestyle final in sixth place with a good time of 2.11.99 and finished sixth in the final too with a time of 2.12.03.
In the medley event, Pershore improved on their freestyle qualifying, setting the fifth fastest time to secure their place in the final. Again, the opposition in the final proved fierce, with the team again maintaining their seeding position by finishing fifth in the final in 2.25.36.
The girls’ 13/14 team of Beth Carter, Hope Rochelle, Hannah Simister and Jasmine Taite were in fine form, qualifying well for both the freestyle and medley finals. In the medley, the Pershore quartet qualified in seventh for the final in 2.21.06, and then managed to improve on their seeding by coming home in sixth place in 2.22.94.
In the freestyle event the team just managed to qualify for the final, producing a 2.09.38 to secure the eighth position. However, they proved again they could deliver the goods when it mattered in the final, improving their position again with a seventh placing and a time of 2.09.35.
The girls’ 15/16 team of Emily Burton, Alice Hall, Katie Sharratt and Lizzie Vizard were just outside the medals in both the relays. In the medley final, Pershore produced a good performance with a time of 2.25.78 to take fifth against some formidable opposition. They then managed to secure another fifth place position in the freestyle, clocking 2.10.48.
Finally, Pershore’s Masters team proved they can still mix it with the best in the county. The mixed quartet of Helen Annis, Luke Bussey, Marie Porter and David McManus scooped the gold medal and the county title in the freestyle relay in 1.59.65, with McManus holding off a late surge from Worcester on the last leg in a dramatic finish.
The quartet were back in action later in the day going for double gold in the medley. Annis took the team out in the backstroke with an excellent leg, before McManus cut into the opposition’s lead on the breaststroke.
Pershore found themselves in second just behind Worcester as Bussey challenged hard on the fly leg, before Porter entered the freestyle anchor leg close on the tail of Worcester. Despite putting in a strong performance, Porter was just edged out into the silver medal spot, touching in 2.15.37, with Worcester winning in 2.15.21.
Commenting on the club’s performance, Pershore’s head coach Tom Naughton said: “What a brilliant day for the club with great swims from all our teams. I was delighted to see our 11/12 boys not only win double gold but break the county record for freestyle relay twice.
“The 9/10-year-old girls look a great team for the future and I was so impressed with how they rose to the challenge in both finals. Special mention must also go to Owen Kirby who swam for the first time in the counties and won two medals in the 9/10-year-old boys’ age group. As for the Masters…what a performance!”