A TRIO of Vale swimmers performed superbly at the English Schools’ Swimming Association (ESSA) Inter-Divisional Short Course Championships at City of Leeds Swimming Club as they represented the West Midlands.
The three swimmers – William Gearey, Tazmin Pugh and Chloe Golding – secured 45 points out of possible 48 as well as relay points for the team.
In his first West Midlands representative swim, 12-year-old Gearey, a member of Pershore SC for the last seven years, was in action in his two individual events during the first afternoon.
Gearey, presently a pupil at St Egwin’s Middle School, had previously shown his talent at the ASA English Home Nations Championships in August when he was the only 12-year-old boy to reach the double age 12/13 50m fly finals.
In his first event in Leeds, Gearey proved his quality in taking the opposition apart in the 100m freestyle as he recorded 0:58.72 to earn the region the maximum eight points with a new ESSA record, ducking under the one-minute barrier for the first time and remaining number one in the UK end of year rankings for 12-year-olds and ninth all-time best in the UK for a 12-year-old.
Gearey’s second event was the 100m fly in which he finished fourth in 1:07.75 and he followed this by helping his 4x100m medley relay team to a bronze medal with 4:33.38, proving once again why he won 11 medals at the Midland Championships and 16 medals at the Worcestershire County Championships.
On the final day Gearey joined his junior team-mates to win the 4x100m freestyle relay in a new ESSA record-breaking time to also take the overall boys’ junior team award.
Fifteen-year-old Pugh, who has recently been enrolled into Pershore Swimming Club’s hall of fame by being given honorary membership and is now a pupil at Ellesmere College, faced a tough test in her first event as the youngest swimmer in the 100m fly in the multi-age 15/16/17-year group.
This did not worry her though and she came through strongly over the second 50m to win by two body lengths in a new Regional Junior and ESSA record time of 1:00.78 to remain first in the UK rankings and the second quickest of all time for a 15-year-old, missing the British record by just 0.2 of a second.
In the 200m fly Pugh led from the start and increased her dominance throughout to win by 4.5 seconds in another new Regional Junior and second ESSA record time of 2:10.22 to sit number one in the UK and the fastest of all time for a 15-year-old.
She is also ranked number one in Europe for the 200m fly (Short Course) for 15/16-year-olds by nearly one second.
Pugh has recently returned with a six-medal record haul from the multi-sport Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa, where she helped England take second place behind Australia in both the pool and overall.
Seventeen-year-old Golding, who still trains at Evesham in the holidays, also competed over the 15/16/17-year-old division in the 100m and 200m backstroke.
In the 200m backstroke Golding left the other seven regions’ swimmers in her wake as she recorded a new personal best and ESSA record of 2:11.17 to remain fourth in the UK.
In the 100m backstroke on the second day Golding just missed out on gold medal position by a few tenths of a second as she finished third in 1:01.45, remaining second in the UK rankings.
In the team relays both Pugh and Golding joined forces to bring home valuable points for the West Midlands team which finishing fourth out of eight on each occasion.
The West Midlands team was missing swimmers from performance clubs like City of Birmingham and Royal School Wolverhampton, who were unable to take up their invites, and finished fifth on 342 points, not far behind third placed South East on 369 and South West on 356. The winners were North East on 403.