On the weekend of 7th and 8th December, Bishop’s Stortford Swimming Club was represented by fourteen of its top open swimmers at the ASA East Region Winter Swimming Championships. Held in Luton, the competition gave the Stortford swimmers a chance to compete against athletes from the other Eastern Counties, including Essex, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Norfolk, and Hertfordshire.
The most successful Stortford swimmer of the meet was National age group swimmer Ellie Mitchell (14), who performed consistently well throughout the weekend. Ellie showed fantastic class to reach several individual finals in the freestyle and backstroke events, the highlight of which came in the 200m backstroke, where she clinched an outstanding bronze medal in a new personal best time of 2.17.41. This time also dipped under the previous club record time, held since 1993 by Bishop’s Stortford Masters swimmer Kerry-Anne Edwards. The Bishop’s Stortford College pupil narrowly missed out on another medal in the 100m backstroke, where she finished 4th, in another club record time of 1.03.46. Her speed in the 50m backstroke was also evident, where Ellie swum a personal best time of 30.18 to finish 9th.
One of the most notable of Ellie’s performances however was in the 100m freestyle, where she smashed her personal best by 1.5 seconds, finishing in time of 57.61. This time also broke Bishop’s Stortford’s longest standing Club record (a time of 58.17), which was previously held by Helen Bollins in 1992. Ellie’s performance was good enough again to challenge the very best, and she finished in a brilliant 4th place overall. There was further success in the 50m freestyle. In a star studded field, consisting of ex International swimmer Zoe Cray from Ipswich, she qualified for yet another final, coming 6th with a new personal best time of 26.91. Ellie’s scintillating form over the weekend will bode her well for the British Championships Qualifying meets, which will be targeted in the New Year.
National butterfly swimmer Amy Young (15), and Former National freestyler, Stuart Clarke (30) were two of three other Stortford swimmers to reach finals over the weekend, and their good form brought excellent results.
Amy reached her first Open Regional final in the 200m butterfly, where she fought hard to achieve a 6th place finish overall. Her time of 2.24.28 was also a huge personal best time, and lowered her own existing club record. She was unlucky not to final in her favoured 100m butterfly, where she missed out on a spot in the final (finishing 9th overall) with a ‘swim off’ against Hatfield’s International long distance specialist Pippa Shuttleworth. Her time of 1.05.03 was however a new personal best time and shows great promise for the season. She also achieved new personal best times in the freestyle events, with times of 28.14 on the 50m, 1.00.03 in the 100m (finishing 20th overall) and 2.12.37 on the 200m. Amy’s power was also evident in the 50m butterfly, where she finished 12th in a new personal best time of 30.13.
Stuart on the other hand provided one of Stortford’s most notable performances of the weekend, when he reached his 10th Regional 200m final of his career, smashing his personal best with a superb time of 1.54.96. In a field consisting of Youth Olympics Gold Medallist and British International swimmer Martyn Walton, Stuart finished in 6th place overall, missing out on his first Regional medal by a tantalising 0.5 secs. His time also ranks Stuart as the fastest over 30 year old in Great Britain. He was also able to secure a final berth in the coveted 100m freestyle final, this time finishing one place better, clinching 5th place in an impressive time of 52.81. Stuart continued his good form in the 100m butterfly, swimming close to his personal best in a time of 59.86.
National Butterfly swimmer Jake Lloyd (19) reached the final of his favourite event, the 200m butterfly, finishing 5th in a time of 2.10.78. His busy schedule also saw him achieve a flurry of top 20 finishes in the 100m butterfly (58.58, 13th place), 50m butterfly (26.91, 17th), and 200m freestyle (1.56.76, 13th). He was close to his best form in the 400m freestyle too, securing 14th place in a time of 4.10.63. He added a 13th place finish in the 200 Individual medley, achieving a seasons best time of 2.13.61.
Middle distance freestyle specialist Kieran Raphy (17) also swam several Pb’s over the course of the weekend. A fantastic 2.02.69 in the 200 freestyle was perhaps the highlight, although he also powered to a new personal best in the 400m freestyle, finishing 30th in a time of 4.21.26. There were other impressive swims in the 50m freestyle (26.49), 100m freestyle (57.28) and the 1500m freestyle (18.12).
Megan Cook rounded off a busy weekends swimming with a seasons best in the 100m butterfly (1.09.56, 22nd place), and she showed great versatility as she competed in the freestyle, butterfly, and backstroke events. Her times of 29.04 on the 50m freestyle and 1.03.55 on the 100m freestyle show sign of promise for the New Year.
Ollie Perry (15), Olivia Smith–Lal (15), and Chloe Ogden (13) made their Winter Regionals Stortford debuts, and all achieved solid results. Ollie showed his raw speed in the 50m butterfly, where he finished in 15th place in a time of 26.56, whilst Olivia continued her injury comeback with a new personal best time of 28.73. Chloe Ogden swam a massive lifetime best in the 200m breaststroke, finishing 33rd in a time of 2.51.90.
There was a refreshing return to form for backstroke specialist Zara Pretious White (14), who achieved new personal best times in the 50m (32.23) and 200m backstroke (2.29.35), finishing 39th in both events. Equally impressive was Joe Collins, who showed that he is back to his best with new personal best times in the 100m breaststroke (1.13.19) and 200m breaststroke (2.39.25).
Cira Fletcher (15), who competed at the National Open Championships in the 50m breaststroke last summer, was consistent throughout. Her best swim was in the 50m breaststroke, where she finished 33rd in a time of 36.62.
Both Emily Lampon (14) and Cameron Brickel (16) showed no sign of nerves in their first Open Regional Championships, as both swam close to their personal best times. Emily achieved a time of 2.17.03 on the 200m freestyle whilst Cameron fought to a time of 58.20 in the 100m freestyle.