PERSHORE Swimming Club took a huge squad of 17 to the 2017 Regional Championships in Coventry, which is testament to their fantastic development led by head coach Tom Naughton.
This represents one in four swimmers of eligible age at Pershore competing at this advanced level.
The championships took place over five days across two weekends of gruelling competition in the 50m pool in Coventry. The events comprised of heats and finals right through to 400m individual medley which further tested the swimmers.
The best swimmers from all over the West Midlands assembled to battle it including prestigious performance clubs such as City of Birmingham, Royal Wolverhampton School, City of Coventry, Ellesmere College, Boldmere and Wrekin College to name just a few.
Hannah Woodcock (13) was the outstanding swimmer among this talented Pershore bunch. Woodcock, swimming in the 13-year category, competed in 11 events and won seven medals which was a fantastic achievement.
Woodcock won two gold medals in the 100m freestyle (1.01.89) and 50m backstroke (33.60s) and silver in the 50m freestyle (28.75s) and 50m breaststroke (36.92s).
She also took bronze in the 100m backstroke (1:12.80), 50m butterfly (31.85s) and 200m breaststroke (2:54.92).
Other events were strong too with two fourth places, one fifth place and a seventh place in 100m breaststroke, 200m IM and 200m backstroke and 200m freestyle respectively.
It was a phenomenal championships for the young swimmer who is in with a big chance of swimming in the National Finals this summer.
Chris Vizard (15) was also in top form at the championships. Having secured his first ever regional medal, he went on clinch two more which is a fantastic achievement for Vizard who battled hard throughout the five days in 14 events.
Bronze medals came in the 50m freestyle (26.77s), 50m breaststroke (34.61s) and 100m butterfly (1:03.81). Vizard also took fourth place in the 50m butterfly (28.97s), just being touched out for a medal.
His other events included 50m backstroke (32.58s) 5th, 200m IM (2:26.83) 5th, 100m backstroke (1:10.04) 6th, 200m breaststroke (2:55.07) 7th, 100m breaststroke (1:20.49) 7th, 200m backstroke (2:29.98) 8th, 200m butterfly (2:27.84) 8th, 400m IM (5:17.29) 14th; 200m freestyle (2:12.08) 14th.
The final medallist was Amy Weston (15) swimming in the 16-year age group. She claimed a brilliant bronze in the 50m backstroke in a strong time of 32.91s and also narrowly missed a medal in the 200m backstroke, coming fourth (2:29.47). A solid swim in the 50m butterfly (32.42s) saw her finish eighth.
Alex Barry (13) had a good championships swimming in the 14-year category. She competed in 12 events and, despite not claiming a medal, came very close having taken on some of the real tough events including the 800m freestyle and 400m IM.
Yet again the ‘so close girl’ Barry took two fourth places in the 200m freestyle (2:18.61) and 200m backstroke (2:39.16), two fifth places in the 800m freestyle (9:58.79) and 400m IM (5:40.45), sixth in the 100m backstroke (1:11.91), two seventh places in the 50m butterfly (31.93s) and 200m IM (2:36.31), eighth place in the 50m backstroke (34.34s), ninth in the 100m freestyle (1:04.55), tenth in the 400m freestyle and 12th in the 100m butterfly (1:13.97).
Another swimmer who grafted and came very close to taking a medal was Patrick Heeks (13). Heeks came closest in the 200m butterfly in which he looked nailed on for a medal, only to be touched out in the last 5m and end fourth (2:28.68).
He also took another commendable fourth place in the 100m butterfly (1:05.93). Heeks battled in all 11 events and delivered some good placings including: 100m freestyle (1:00.86) 6th; 50m butterfly (30.68) 7th; 100m backstroke (1:11.77) 8th; 50m backstroke (32.81) 10th; 200m IM (2:31.47) 11th; 200m backstroke (2:32.09) 11th; 200m freestyle (2:16.27) 13th; 50m freestyle (28.84s) 14th; 50m breaststroke (39.75s) 15th.
Luke Perry (15) qualified for four events and did not disappoint, making the final in two. Perry qualified sixth in the 100m breaststroke (1:20.09) but could repeat the time in the final, achieving (1:22.27) eighth.
In the 50m breaststroke Perry qualified into the final in third place (35.22s). The finals are cut-throat, particularly in such short races as 50m. Perry swam a 35.27s to come fifth overall, just outside the medals.
Perry also competed hard in the 100m butterfly (1.11.99, 11th) and 50m freestyle (27.98s, 11th).
Following some very strong swimming in Scottish Age Group Championships, Hamish Cross (13) was focused on three events at Regionals. Cross did not quite achieve the same times but swam well in the 50m breaststroke (36.77s, 10th) and 100m breaststroke (1:21.42, 12th).
The 50m fly was the big target race for Cross and he did not disappoint with a rapid 30.54s which got him into the final in fourth place. He then went faster still in the final (30.28s) but it was not quite enough for a medal, taking fourth place.
Jaz Franks (12) focused on the shorter distances, competing in the 50m butterfly, freestyle and breaststroke. Franks clocked up times of 39.61s (16th) and 31.72s (21st) respectively in the latter two races.
In the 50m butterfly Franks hurtled into the final in fifth place. Despite going even faster in the final (32.85s), she slipped one place to achieve a great sixth position. All times were long course PBs.
Jaz Hoskins (12) delivered some great PBs in her three regional swims. Hoskins had missed a few training sessions running up to regionals, but she showed what talent she has with her three swims – 50m freestyle (30.98s, 12th); 50m backstroke (36.82s, 14th) and 200m backstroke (2:46.72, 11th).
No stranger to regional championships is Bella Woodcock (14) who competed in her preferred breaststroke stroke. Although Bella did not make the finals, she did compete hard.
Woodcock’s times were: 50m (38.39s, 13th); 100m (1:26.57, 16th); 200m (3:04.41, 15th).
Cait Yates (13) had two 50m swims to contend with. A regional returner, she swam well to deliver 34.96s in the 50m butterfly (19th). In her preferred breaststroke, Yates clocked 40.03s. Again, all times were long course PBs.
Taking a well earned break from her GCSE studying, it was great to see Jaz Taite (17) competing again at the Regionals.
Swimming in the 50m backstroke, Taite went out well in the heat in 34.81s to come fifth. Into the final, Taite went faster, touching in 34.23s to finish fourth.
Emily Drayton (13) arrived ready for some fast swimming in the 50m freestyle and she threw the kitchen sink at it, touching in 30.70s (12th), just 0.4s off making the final.
It was great to see some swimmers achieving regional standard for the first time. Just getting to this standard is a success and a platform for the swimmers to build from.
Bella Barry (11), following in the footsteps of her big sister, achieved two regional times in 2017 and swam two great PBs at the championships – 50m butterfly (35.59s) for 19th place and 50m backstroke (37.15s) for 17th place.
Izzie Cumming (14) also achieved the regional standard in the 200m backstroke and swam a creditable 2:42.56 (22nd) and a long course PB.
Alfie Brown (13) came close to several regional times, swimming a great 200m breaststroke (3:08.55, 14th) and another long course PB.
Max Murray (12) zipped into the championships with five regional times which was a huge achievement for his first year. Murray’s best placing came in the 200m IM (2:55.12, 12th) buthe was disqualified from the 50m butterfly in which he would have qualified fourth for the final.
Murray also swam the 200m freestyle (2:33.80, 18th) and 100m breaststroke (1:34.11, 21st).
The Pershore swimmers move on to Cardiff later this month in the final push to try and achieve National Qualifying Times. There is then the briefest of rests from competing – but not training – in August before it starts again in September for the 2017/18 season.