PERSHORE Swimming Club produced the biggest medal haul in the club’s history at this year’s ASA Midland Championships held at Coventry International Pool, coming away with a sublime three gold, four silver and six bronze medals as well as the coveted Top Boy award in the 12-year-old age group for William Gearey.
Pershore sent a seven-strong squad to compete in this year’s championships, with high expectations for medals based on current UK rankings, and several members of the team also hoping to secure places at the 2015 Summer Nationals in Sheffield in August.
Entry to the Midland Championships is by qualification only and sees the very best of the region’s 11 to 14-year-old swimmers taking part from the likes of City of Birmingham, City of Coventry, City of Leicester, City of Derby, Ellesmere College, Northampton, Nova Centurion, Leamington, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Lincolnshire.
The format of the championship had changed slightly from previous years, with heats and finals being introduced across all events bar the longer distance 400m disciplines, which proved to be a much tougher affair for all swimmers and a more exciting programme for all involved.
Will Gearey (12) was the star performer for Pershore across the two weekends, winning a phenomenal 11 medals in the 11/12-year-old age category and also bagging the Top Boy award, while Simon Sweatman (13) claimed two medals and was unlucky not to land several more.
Gearey’s best performances came in the 50m freestyle and 50m breaststroke, winning gold in both events. Qualifying for the final in first for the freestyle and second for the breaststroke, Gearey did not let nerves get the better of him and he produced two outstanding performances in both finals, winning the 50m freestyle in a new long course PB time of 28.24 and the 50m breaststroke in 38.01.
His 50m freestyle time takes him to the number one ranking spot (long course) for 12-year-old boys in the UK.
Gearey added four silver medals to his haul, with second places coming in the 50m and 100m fly and 50m and 100m backstroke. He produced a PB of 1.08.91 in the 100m fly, beaten by a very strong Northampton swimmer currently ranked first in the UK and then was edged into second place in the 100m backstroke despite producing a PB of 1.11.65.
He was unlucky not to take the gold in the 50m fly. Going into the final in first place, Gearey produced a quick time of 30.55 but again lost out to his Northampton rival on the touch.
Gearey also snatched a silver medal in the 50m backstroke with 33.55. He also won five bronze medals in the 200m freestyle in 2.14.56 (PB), 200m IM in 2.32.72 (PB), 400m IM in 5.32.57 (PB), 400m freestyle in 4.50.06 (PB) and 100m freestyle (1.02.19) to complete a fantastic couple of weekends for the young Pershore swimmer, helping him to win the Top Boy award by over 15 points.
Sweatman, competing in the boys’ 13-year-old age group, was another Pershore swimmer in excellent form over both weekends. Sweatman saved the best until last, winning a gold medal in the last event of the championships.
Qualifying for the 50m freestyle final in third place, Sweatman produced a fantastic swim to claim his first ever gold medal at Regional level. Sweatman powered down the 50m pool to claim victory in a new PB of 28.02 against formidable opposition.
He then added a superb bronze medal in the 50m fly with a time of 30.92 and was unlucky not to get amongst the medals in the 200m backstroke (2.25.56, PB) and 50m backstroke (32.14), being edged into fourth place in both events.
He also reached the final of the 100m backstroke, coming fifth in a massive new PB of 1.07.72 and secured a top 20 finish in the 400m freestyle with 4.46.87 (PB).
Megan Annis (12), enjoying her second time at the Midland Championships, managed to qualify for two of her three events in the girls’ 11/12-year-old age group. Annis looked strong in both finals, producing new long course personal bests in the 100m backstroke (1.14.90) and 50m backstroke (34.76) to snatch fifth places. She also claimed a top 20 finish in the 50m freestyle with 31.79.
Alexandra Barry (11), competing in her first Regional finals, was also competing in the 11/12-year-old age group. Barry also managed to qualify for two finals, with some excellent performances.
Going into the 50m final as the third fastest, Barry found the going tough but hung on for a very creditable sixth place with a new PB of 30.60. She also qualified for the 100m backstroke in eighth place, going one better in the final to eventually finish in seventh in 1.15.81.
Patrick Heeks (11) was another Pershore swimmer in sparkling form. Heeks produced a fantastic swim in the heats of the 200m backstroke, smashing his previous time by nearly 12 seconds.
He was unlucky not to get amongst the medals, producing another quality swim in 2.37.49 which saw him claim sixth place. Heeks also produced another PB in the 200m IM for a top 15 finish and a top 20 finish in the 50m backstroke with 36.37.
Chris Vizard (13) qualified in four events at his first championships, with his best performance coming in the 50m freestyle. Vizard produced a massive PB in the final, coming home in eighth place with 29.02.
He also produced a string of PBs including the 200m IM (2.35.61), 400m IM in 5.29.53 and snatched a top ten finish in the 50m fly in 32.08.
Naomi Marsden, competing in her third Midland Championship, fought hard to find form in her favoured backstroke events, producing a top 15 in the 100m backstroke (1.14.27) and narrowly missing out on PBs in the 50m backstroke (35.17) and 200m backstroke (2.43.67).
Commenting on their record haul, Pershore’s head coach Tom Naughton said: “I’m delighted with all of my swimmers and couldn’t have asked for more. These championships attract the very best in the region and also the highest age group rankers in the UK, so to come away with so many medals is just an incredible feat for a club of Pershore’s size.
“We’ve certainly put the town on the map and hopefully we’ll see some of our swimmers heading to the new national championships later this year!”