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Record number of National medals for Sevenoaks Swimming Club

Sevenoaks Swimming Club achieved a record number of medals in the recent Summer National Meets: 8 Bronze; 9 Silver and 5 Gold – 22 in total. Added to those won at the Winter Nationals in December and British Championships in April that is 26 medals overall for the year 2021/22. This significantly exceeds the previous annual total of 10! A record for Sevenoaks Swimming Club.

From 22 to 28 July 2022 Sevenoaks Swimming Club competed in the British Summer National Championship. The Club entered three teams for the 4x200m freestyle relay. In the boys 14 to 16 year old relay Jack Pass, Albert Whitlock, Demi Alli and Sam Martin-Young competed. All swam well, finishing 25th, with Jack and Demi setting personal best times.

For age 17+, Matt Burrows, Albert Branch, Zach Raymond and David Allen finished 16th, rising up in the rankings with Matt, Zach and David achieving personal best times. For the girls, age 14 to 16 year olds, Lily-Marie Derry, Lilia Fornasier, Fern Gray and Lara Turan started ranked as 30th but finished ranked at an impressive 15th!

Competing individually at the British Summer National Championships were swimmers: Lilie Chambers; Millie Childs; Matt Burrows; Imogen Stoddart; Demi Alli; Sam Martin-Young, Albert Whitlock, Fern Gray, Lily-Marie Derry, Aaliyah Richards, Albert Branch, Izabella Okaro, Eva Okaro, Jaedon Lynch and Chengze Duan. For some this was their National debut, others were returning to racing following injury and for many they were juggling swimming training and race preparation with their revision for GCSE and A Level examinations. What they all had in common was discipline, determination and open mindedness to learn from the experience.

Between them these swimmers gained improved knowledge and experience of this level meet, personal best times, places in National Finals, increased individual rankings and 10 medals.

Imogen Stoddart qualified for a National Final for the first time in the 50m breaststroke (17 year old category), finishing 9th. Aaliyah Richards (16 year category) won Silver medals in the 50m and 100m breaststroke and finished higher up the rankings in 9th for the 200m breaststroke. After a busy calendar representing Jamaica, Jaedon Lynch made his debut at this Championship in the 50m free (17 year olds), finishing 21st. Demi Alli finished 14th in the same event (15 year olds).

There was strong racing from the Club’s departing Club Captain, Millie Childs, and from Lilie Chambers (also leaving). Both had been training whilst studying and sitting their A Levels. They have both shared how this meet has inspired them to keep swimming when they go on to university. Izabella Okaro (16 year age category) was the reserve swimmer for two Finals (50 fly (placed 12th) and 100 free (placed 13th)) and qualified in the 50m free for her first National Final where she finished 7th.

Eva Okaro, competing in the 16 year age category, back from a serious achilles injury, finished as double Freestyle (50m & 100m) British Champion and secured a Silver medal in the 50m fly and Bronze medal in the 100m fly. The 100m fly Final was just 40 minutes before the 14-16 year old 4 x 100m relay which saw Eva Okaro, her twin sister, Izabella Okaro, Lily-Marie Derry and Lara Turan team up. Described by Head Coach, Keiron Piper as the ‘best moment’ of his coaching career, this race topped off the Sevenoaks Swimming Club tour to this Sheffield meet in amazing style.

Izabella, Lily-Marie and Lara swam personal bests with Eva swimming her fastest time since injury, and 2nd fastest ever, with them dropping two seconds overall in this fiercely fought Final to win Gold! The celebrations were immense, with Keiron Piper’s celebrations in the stand caught on film by Josh Atkins of Wycombe District Swimming Club. Josh and many others who subsequently viewed this celebration described it as ‘the best swim coach celebration EVER’.
In August, Sevenoaks swimmers competed in both the English and Welsh Nationals with further success.

In the Welsh National Meet in August debut National meet swimmers Ruby Waller, Lilia Fornasier and Lowri Williams competed. All swam superbly well with Ruby finishing 16th in 100m breaststroke in 14 year old age group. Lowri swam in four races, securing personal best times and a silver medal in the 1500m freestyle for 12 year olds. Lilia had a fantastic week of swimming, with personal bests and 4 Bronze, 2 Silver and 2 Gold medals.

In the English Nationals Sevenoaks Swimming Club were represented by: Jack Pass, David Allen, Lily-Marie Derry, Charlotte Marshall, Matt Burrows, Cara Neal, Imogen Myles, Sam Martin-Young; Chengze Duan, Kieran Elvy, Demi Alli, Jaedon Lynch and Albert Branch. Again these swimmers stepped up and raced exceptionally well, securing personal best times, qualifying for Finals and winning medals. Following a huge personal best to get into the Final of the 200 Individual Medley, Lily-Marie Derry finished 7th. She then went on to secure the Silver medal in the 50m backstroke.

Following a knee injury, Sam Martin-Young made it to his first National Final in the 200m breaststroke and finished 5th with a personal best time.

Two of the Club’s young swimmers, debuting at the Nationals were Cara Neal and Imogen Myles. They competed in the 12/13 age category. In the 200m breaststroke they achieved the double with Cara getting Bronze and Imogen Silver. Imogen also swam a personal best in the 50m breaststroke, securing another Silver medal. Imogen now holds Club records in these events.

When asked about these incredible results, Keiron Piper, Head Coach said ‘The swimmers were all amazing – I am so proud of them and the coaching team at Sevenoaks Swimming Club. It has been fantastic to see their dedication and hard work pay off. I have also been blown away by the phenomenal level of support, cheering and number of congratulatory messages that we have all received both from within and outside our Swimming Club. Thank you all. It really did make all the difference to have you on the journey with us.’

• If anyone is interested in learning more about joining Sevenoaks Swimming Club please do get in touch by emailing sec@sevenoakssc.org.

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