09 May 2022
East Region Long Course Championships – 2nd April to 8th May 22
For the first time since 2019, the East Region Championships were able to hold a full series of Long Course events over the last 2 weekends at the University of East Anglia Pool in Norwich over Bank Holiday and at Luton this last weekend. A small contingent of Berkhamsted SC swimmers had qualified to take part and, without exception, swam exceptionally well especially as for 3 of them, this was a first experience of swimming at Regional level.
The first weekend in Norwich saw Kate Hopper begin the series with the 50m Freestyle. Like many in the country she had not competed at this level before due to the restrictions of Covid which shut down the opportunity for competition for more than 2 years.
Understandably nervous on the blocks for the second heat she still managed to produce her usual electric start and powered up the pool to take 2nd in her heat. Having been seeded 3rd fastest for the heat, this was a terrific start t her weekend completing the swim in 29.04 and improving her pb by over half a second, a huge amount in such a short race. The swim moved her right up the rankings and proved to be faster than many in just about every heat that followed for 15-year-old swimmers to eventually place her 11th in age and fastest Hertfordshire swimmer.
Next up for Kate was the 200m Breaststroke, one of the toughest endurance races in the swimming programme. Once again, she stepped up to the task and improved her Long Course (LC) pb by almost a second and a half posting 3:07.29 for 15th and improving her seeding yet again.
For the final race of the Saturday, Kate Hopper was in the 50m Breast and after yet another superb start and underwater phase she was always in the mix in her heat where, seeded slowest she came home 3rd. She had managed a third successive LC pb to take 4/100ths off her previous time in 39.48 and 27th overall.
Sunday morning saw Josie Reid join the party. Like Kate, this was Josie’s first Regional Champs and, indeed her first swim in a 50m pool. Looking strong in the outside lane 8 she powered through the 2nd length to move up to finish 7th in the heat, posting 1:16.96.
Into the afternoon session and Kate Hopper was back for her final swim, the 100m Freestyle event. In the second heat, for the first time she was in a seeded lane and got off to a superb start, turning first at the halfway mark, just outside the 30 second mark as she really attacked the swim. Up the second length she was in a fight with the swimmer in Lane 5 and as they swam in hard to the pads, she was just touched out by 0.2 seconds to finish second in 1:04.67 to complete a very pleasing first set of Regional swims.
On the Bank Holiday Monday Josie Reid was back for the 50m Fly to be joined by Kiera Wharton for the event. Josie Reid was off first of the two swimmers and in a very closely contested race touched 6th in her heat with 32.42 to set her first time for the LC 50m.
Kiera Wharton took to the blocks 3 heats later and swimming in Lane 3, was ahead of the field at 15m following more superb underwater work. With little to choose between most of the swimmers she put her head down in the last 5m to touch in 2nd place, exactly equalling her pb from the same championships in 2019 of 31.19.
The final swimmer for the club was 12-year-old Poppy Awdry who swam on Saturday and Sunday 7th & 8th May in the Junior Age Group competition held at Luton.
Once again, Poppy had never competed in a 50m pool before and began with her 50m Freestyle where she was seeded slowest of all entries. Notwithstanding this she leapt off the blocks to lead the field as they broke out together. She managed to retain the lead for the whole race to touch the pads in 33.40 and win her heat improving some 10 places on her original seeding.
Her second event was on the Sunday, the 100m Freestyle and again, she went out hard, coming back well to clock 1:14.63 and should be very pleased with her swims at this level for the first.
With the season now in full flow the club reverts to the youngest age groups for the coming months with Peanuts (9-12 years) League starting this coming Saturday (14th May) where they compete a Hemel Hempstead pool.
Geoff Wood, Coach, Berkhamsted SC