FOLLOWING their hugely successful Midlands Championships, three Vale swimmers travelled to Stockport Metro’s Winter Meet and once again showed their capabilities against elite swimmers from around the UK as well as visiting teams from Belgium and Ireland.
With their homes still in the Vale but now based at Ellesmere College, Harry Bamforth (15), Chloe Golding (17) and Tazmin Pugh (15) all train back at their foundation clubs at Worcester, Evesham and Pershore.
Bamforth was hoping for a good performance but what he produced was staggering. In his first event, the 1,500m freestyle, he swam a 20-second personal best of 16:41.15 to take silver and qualify for the ASA National Winter Championships in December.
Meanwhile, Golding and Pugh competed in the 400m individual medley in which Golding set her own PB with 4:49.92 and Pugh took gold in the 15-year category by recording 4:44.95, only two hundredths of a second short of her own regional record she set two weeks previously.
Lifetime best for Bamforth
In the boys’ 200m IM, Bamforth once again set a PB with 2:21.26 and followed this with another in the 100m freestyle with 58.51 and again in the 200m backstroke with 2:15.04.
In the afternoon session Bamforth set his fifth PB of the meet with 4:17.74 in the 400m freestyle, whilst his two Ellesmere College Titans team-mates competed in the women’s 100m backstroke for a place in the 15 and over finals at the end of the day.
In this event both Pugh and Golding qualified comfortably for the top eight places in the 15/over final in which Pugh set her lifetime best with 1:00.70 to climb to first in the UK in an event she does not normally compete in.
She took gold and became the eighth best of all time (15-year) in Great Britain and also stormed up to fifth in the European rankings for 15/16-year-olds.
Golding finished with 59.52, marginally short of her regional record, for 15/over silver.
In the girls’ 200m freestyle, another event Pugh does not usually compete in, she set a four-second PB of 1:59.95 to beat three of the Belgian stars in taking 15-year gold and propelling herself to the very top of the British rankings, becoming the fourth best of all time and entering the European rankings in sixth place.
It was also Pugh’s first regional junior record and 14th in total of the meet.
Bamforth set Sunday’s first session alight with 4:51.00 in the boys’ 400m IM, whilst in the 100m backstroke he set his final lifetime best with 1:04.47.
Top of the older girls
Pugh followed suit in the 200m IM which was also acting as the qualifying round for an event called ‘SKINS’ in which the top eight swimmers of each of the 14/under and 15/over groups race over the sprint distance of 50m in a stroke determined at random, with the slowest going out at each stage.
In the 200m IM Pugh did not mess around and swam to her second new regional junior record of the meet with 2:16.27, finishing with her fourth first place in her 15-year age group.
This puts Pugh firmly at the top of the UK and fifth in Europe, going on to take the ‘SKINS’ title by securing progression through the rounds by winning all but one and most importantly the final race.
In the girls’ 50m backstroke Golding finished with silver in a time of 28.54, whilst in the 15 and over final session of the meet she competed in the 400m freestyle, an event she would not normally do, finishing with a PB of 4:20.79.
British junior record
In the 200m butterfly Pugh annihilated the field in taking the 15-year gold and swimming to a new British and her third regional junior record of the meet with 2:08.86, beating girls from International teams in her 15-year age group by seven seconds.
Pugh now sits at the top of the rankings in the UK, top of all time in the UK for 15-year-olds and first in the European rankings for the 200m fly ahead of Russian girls.
The action-packed schedule continues for Pugh when she travels to Toronto in Canada to compete in the Ontario Junior International for Team GB juniors between December 4-6.