A TRIO of Vale swimmers – who still train at clubs in Pershore, Evesham and Worcester when not at their Shropshire-based Ellesmere College Titans club – turned on the style when they competed at Nottingham’s new £16m leisure development for the first time in the joint East and West Midlands Short Course Championships.
Each event during the weekend had evening finals in which the top eight women and men competitors battled it out in just one Open Final, even though awards were split between the ‘Youth’ section made up of the 15/under age group and the seniors of 16/over.
Making the tough qualifying times in multiple events, 15-year-old Harry Bamforth from The Littletons set personal bests on the first day of competition in the 200m freestyle (2:03.39) and 400m individual medley (4:53.93).
For the girls, the first heats in the morning and Open finals in the evening were the 400m freestyle in which Tazmin Pugh from Pershore achieved 4:21.04, which was quick enough to make the finals.
This came in a week in which Pugh, 15, celebrated being crowned Herefordshire & Worcestershire Junior Female Sports Personality of the Year for an unprecedented second time having also triumphed in this category in 2011.
When the finals of the 400m freestyle arrived in the evening, it was time for Pugh to turn on the turbos – the same ones which have enabled her to win international medals around the globe.
Once again she was not found wanting, going 12 seconds quicker in the Open final to take silver and win the first of seven junior gold medals and trophies of the weekend with a new regional record of 4:09.86. This ranks her first in the UK, second fastest of all time in the UK and third in Europe for a 15/16-year-old.
Regional record for Golding
SEVENTEEN-year-old Chloe Golding, of Evesham, set the pool alight in the 100m backstroke Open final to take gold with her first ever sub-one-minute time of 59.41.
This was also a new regional record in the senior category (UK first, UK all-time second, Europe sixth).
Meanwhile, Pugh continued her winning ways in making the Open final of the 200m butterfly, this time beating the older girls including some who have swum for Team GB, as she won overall Open gold and in doing won her second 15/under gold in 2:10.48 (UK first, UK all-time second, Europe first).
Finishing the first day’s gold run, Pugh competed in her third final against team-mate Golding in the 200m backstroke Open final and found the strength over the last 50m to stretch out to win in 2:08.54 (UK first, UK all-time fifth, Europe second). Golding clocked 2:10.86 (UK first, UK all-time ninth, Europe eighth).
Bamforth continued his good form on the second day as he improved his PBs in the 400m freestyle with 4:17.87 and 200m backstroke with 2:16.79.
More golds on the second day
ON THE final day of competition for the girls, the two Titans swam the 800m freestyle reserved for the top 16 swimmers from the entry times.
Pugh went on to swim a new regional record as she took silver in 8:41.15 in the Open and the 15/under gold (UK first, all-time sixth, Europe second). Golding finished 12th in 8:59.68.
In the heats of the 200m freestyle, Golding swam 2:05.14 in taking fifth place before improving her lifetime best to 2:04.05 in the Open final.
Pugh continued Ellesmere’s gold rush in the Open finals of the 100m butterfly by setting a new regional record of 1:00.25 to win the 15/u gold medal (UK first, UK all-time second, Europe second).
In the 50m backstroke Golding was touched out by team-mate Cassie Wild by just one hundredth of a second in 28.21 as she took silver (UK first, UK all-time 11th, Europe seventh).
In the 400m IM Pugh had already broken the regional record in the heats with 4:46.91 but went even quicker in the Open finals to set yet another record with 4:44.92 and secure Open bronze and the 15/u gold (UK first, UK all-time 11th, Europe second).
British record for Pugh
BRINGING matters to a close, Pugh was the only Ellesmere swimmer in the Open final of the 50m butterfly (heat time 28.16) but took her fourth Open title in style to become the fastest 15-year-old girl in history in setting a new British age group and junior record.
This was also a senior record of 27.10 and secured her seventh 15/u gold medal, leaving her second in Europe.
Pugh now holds six short course (25m pool) and seven long course (50m pool) regional records and about a third of all the individual junior records possible in the West Midlands.
In Europe Pugh sits in the top three in seven short course events and top ten in many long course events from last season.
It was a superbly successful weekend for the Ellesmere College Titans girls’ team which won an unprecedented clean sweep of all the 15/u titles (17 in all), plus setting an unprecedented 13 regional records.
Overall Titans won 26 golds in a total of 56 medals, against 31 overall medals from Loughborough University and 24 from City of Birmingham.