High Wycombe Leisure Centre in Bucks was the venue for a sweltering weekend of Regional Championships for the over 15 swimmers at Sevenoaks Swimming Club, proving that they were no wilting flowers by producing some outstanding swims in one of the hottest Bank Holidays on record, all under the enthusiastic, supportive and encouraging eye of coach, Paddy Ham.
The South East Region is one of the largest in the country, incorporating counties as far as Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent. This year’s qualifying times were set at an unsurpassed level for the races, so huge congratulations must go to all 15 qualifiers for meeting the tough entry requirements.
Friday kicked off proceedings with the new distance swims of 1500m for girls and 800m for boys. Amy Farthing (20) started with a fine 4th place followed by a gutsy swim from Ellis Stanhope (16) who stormed home on the last length to secure a well-deserved Bronze Medal.
Saturday morning, and with the sun blazing through the glass of the pool, the boys in 50m breaststroke were first off the blocks. Ollie Coote and Oscar Wilson pulled out the stops and came in 9th and 16th in the 15 yrs, with Dominic Percy (16) coming 19th and only just off a personal best, while swimming with a broken thumb.
Next in the pool were the girls 50m fly swimmers with Ellie Vowell and Zoe Naylor-Perrott (15) both producing fabulous swims. Ellie qualifying for the 15 yrs final and finishing in a fabulous 6th place. The boys 200m freestylers were next up for a cool dip with Aiden McMillan (15) and Ellis Stanhope (16) both comfortably qualifying for the finals and managing a great 7th and 4th respectively.
Next, Jasmine Wallace (15) made her regionals debut, and Emma Evans-Wilson (16) in the 200m backstroke and both finishing a fine 12th place, shortly followed by Zoe back for the 100m freestyle along with Emma in the 50m back, with Emma finishing in 12th and Zoe managing to bag a place in both finals, securing 8th in the Back and a superb Bronze in the freestyle.
The 200m butterfly is not for the faint hearted but Amy, Ellis and Aiden proved their metal with Amy and Aiden qualifying for the finals and finishing 6th and 5th respectively and Ellis narrowly missing out on a final spot and finishing 9th.
Finally, Maddie Glen (15), Sarah Williams (16) along with Ellie, Oscar and Ollie were up for the 100m breaststroke. Ellie finished a very respectable 14th, Oscar 16th and Sarah 17th all producing very good swims with Maddie and Ollie qualifying for the finals and both finishing in a flourish in 6th place.
Sunday turned out to be even hotter inside by the pool and outside in the sunshine. The day was to be a medal producing one which started with the fabulous distance guys, Amy and Ellis, both securing amazing Silver medals in the 400m individual medley and 1500m freestyle.
Next were the sprints: 50m freestyle, with Emma, Maddie, Ellie and Zoe racing. Maddie finished 24th, with Ellie and Emma both finishing in 17th and Zoe qualifying for the finals and fighting hard for a super 3rd Silver medal of the day. The boy sprinters in the 50m fly were Aiden McMillan and Chris Cheng (21), with Aiden finishing in 17th and Chris going on to the finals and bagging a great 7th place.
This was swiftly followed by the girls 200m breaststroke event with Maddie and Sarah Williams swimming. Sarah finished strongly in 13th and Maddie went on to finish in a fine 7th in the finals. Emma was back in the pool in the 100m backstroke and gaining another 12th place.
After all the distance swims and medals, Ellis tried his luck at the 100m freestyle and, having managed the unenviable position of finishing joint 9th in the heat, had the joys of swimming in a swim off for a finals place – he produced an astonishing race to win and jump from 9th to 3rd fastest qualifier, but it was a race too far for one day, although he still managed to finish in a great 6th place. The day was rounded off with Amy in another distance, this time the 400m freestyle, finishing with a good 9th place.
Bank Holiday Monday, when most were soaking up the hottest Bank holiday, the swimmers and their hugely dedicated Coach, Paddy, were back at the pool early on for a final day of racing.
Amy managed a strong 7th in the 800m freestyle, followed by 50m backstroker, Ethan Hunter (16) and 50m breaststrokers, Maddie and Ellie. Ethan and Ellie finished a fine 16th a piece with Maddy qualifying for the final and executing a great race to finish in 6th. Oscar and Ollie were back for the 200m breaststroke with Oscar finishing a fine 12th and Ollie a stonking 5th in the finals.
The 100m butterfly swimmers were next in the pool: Aiden and Chris for the boys and Ellie and Zoe for the girls. They all pulled out the stops with Zoe finishing in 15th, Ellie in 12th and Aiden in 9th. Chris, however decided that a Bronze medal had his name on it and stormed the finals to claim that prize.
Last, but not least, the two swimmers who started the proceedings also finished it, with Ellis swimming to an amazing 4th in the 400m freestyle and Amy finishing in 6th in the 200m IM.
Massive well done to all the swimmers and the parents for their support. Paddy endured the whole weekend as sole coach, 12hrs a day, and didn’t stop smiling and encouraging the swimmers throughout. He was exhausted, and his voice was all but gone at the end but “it was worth every second” he said, “a great showing from the senior swimmers who gave it everything and I couldn’t be prouder”.