Arena Round 2 Nov 19

A shared coach trip to Braintree with the Tring squad was the prelude to an exciting evening of racing for Berkhamsted’s Arena League team on Saturday night. Both teams knew it would be a tough fight but travelled in good spirits.

At the end of the night the young Berkhamsted team finished 4th of the 6 competing teams after a hectic gala and having had 3 swimmers have to drop out with illness on the day which necessitated some last minute switching of the team sheet as well.

Berkhamsted had 3 individual wins on the night having to wait until the 26th event for the first victory from Ish Rahim who was a clear winner of the Open 100m Backstroke in 1:05.35 but possibly the biggest response out of many performances came from Alex Kalverboer. The 13 year old was asked to swim up an age in the 15 & Under 100m Butterfly and gamely posted a 4 second improvement to come home 4th in 1:19.05 but just 10 minutes later dived in again in his own age group to take a comfortable win and improve by another 2 seconds with the ultimate in controlled swimming (1:16.97). Just 15 minutes later in the night again, he also pocketed a valiant 2nd place in the 100m Freestyle making him a worthy winner of one of the male swimmers of the night awards for the club.

The final victory came from Tamsin Moren who proved far too strong for her opposition in the 15 & Under 100m breaststroke winning with several metres of clear water in 1:22.89.

Possibly the unluckiest swimmer of the night with three second places was Issy Soulsby who started the gala for the team with 2nd in the Open 200m IM right on her pb with 2:34.93, followed it up with 2nd in the Open 100m Back in 1:11.95. Her final 2nd placing came in her 100m freestyle right at the end where she also managed a personal best of 1:03.86.

Evie Watson surprised herself with an aggressive swim in the Open Breaststroke where she too picked up 2nd place setting a pb with 1:26.27 that included a best time for her at 50m as well.

Zac Patel, fresh from his Regional final last weekend looked strong on his underwater skills to stay in contention in the Open Fly throughout the race touching for yet another 2nd place in 1:00.71 as he continues to knock on the sub 60 second door.

Further 2nds came from the Girls’ 9 to 11 relay squad of Ava Bartlett, Saff Harding, Seren Diehl and lead off swimmer Seren Majed in the 4 x 50 Free relay and also from the Girls’ 13 & Under Free squad of Kate Hopper, Mia Maslen Wollington, Caitie Walters and Abbie Briers.

David Graham had a busy night but swam superbly to firstly chop a huge 15 seconds from his 100m Back time (1:20.77) and followed up with a 4 second improvement in his 100m free (1:07.66) as well as being the only male swimmer in his age group and leading those who swam up with him in excellent fashion.

Several swimmers deserve praise for uncomplainingly swimming up the age groups:

11-year-old Austin Clements swam the 12/13 100m Back and set a pb of 1:40.62.

Joe Harrison, Eze Svichla-Fekete, Cole Moore & Riley Milne all stepped up an age group for relays whilst 12 year olds Caitie Walters & Kate Hopper both stepped up 2 age groups to swim for the Open Girls’ relays. Izzy MacDonald swam the open Fly just 1 race after her own age group backstroke (pb 1:22.52). However, the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for 11-year-old Noah Przygrodzki who was drafted into the 14/15 Boys free relay squad and performed admirably and with a smile superbly supported by David Graham, Alex Kalverboer & Eze Svichla-Fekete, evidencing the team spirit that is always so evident at the club.

During the evening there were also personal bests from Noah Przygrodzki (50 Back 54.28) in his first ever league gala & Abbie Briers who fought hard in a 3 way battle to eventually finish 3rd in her 100m free dropping 1.2 seconds to clock 1:06.88.

The rest of the squad comprised Hugh Burnell-Smith, Alex Farnham, Lydia Wisely, Vicky Ayles, Owen Strakosch, Dan Chennells & Chris Hughes and all contributed to the excellent atmosphere and evening of racing.

The other swimmer of the night awards went to Izzy MacDonald for her back to back swims, Noah Przygrodzki for his 14/15 age group relay effort and his own pb and Seren Majed who survived the trauma of thinking she had false started leading off the relay, when the refs decided there had been too much noise creating an unfair state of affairs, and went on to lead the squad to their 2nd placing.

As always the night ended with the raucous cheering for the Open 6 x 50 Free relays and saw the men come home in a close fought 3rd place to cap a suitably exciting night.

Geoff Wood

Head Coach