News from English And Dutch Short Course Nationals

Catherine Ferguson

English Nationals Day 1 Heats And Finals 

Great morning swims from the Woking sprinters saw both Brin Dorrell and Alex Smith storm through their heats to take a place in the B and A finals, respectively, in times of 24.20s and 22.68s respectively, over 0.5 sec PB for Brin to make his final.

The biggest PB of the day went to Abbie Stemp with an amazing 200m fly time of 2:19.87 , a three second PB swim! 

Dom Holloway finished the great morning swimming from Woking, storming into his B final in his 50m in a time of 28.76 seconds.

Some great finals  to look forward to in the evening  session 

Three finals in store for Woking on the first day and Brin and Alex were first up in the 50m ‘splash and dash’ event. Brin, at only 15 years old was up against some super fast senior swimmers and managed yet another PB, touching home in 24.10sec and earning him 4th placed Junior, agonisingly just outside the Junior medals. A fabulous swim from Brin. 

Alex was to follow in the highly competitive  50m 'A' final.  In an incredibly close race, Alex touched home in 6th place, and again 4th place finish for the UK seniors and Woking just outside the medals again!  Another great swim. 

Dom, last to swim in his 50m breast final, in an incredibly close race, touched in a great 6th place in a time of 28.78sec, just outside his heat swim.

Dutch Nationals Day 1

The short course Dutch Nationals are once again organised at the Pieter van den Hoogenband swim stadium in Eindhoven. With two 50m and one 25m pool is it one of the best facilities in the Netherlands. 

Hendrik is now part of the junior 3 age group which means that for all 100s and the 200IM, there are now prelims and finals whereas in previous years it was straight finals. Race planning now suddenly becomes very important.

First race on Friday was 100 back and with the fastest seeded time, Hendrik swam comfortably to the final with a good time, just above his recent pb at 59.37s.

Just shy of 1 hour later 200IM was scheduled and with 3rd seeded time, Hendrik knew what had to be done in order to secure a place in the final. All through the race he swam under his PB and ended the race at 2:12.20s. Morning session finished, back to the ranch, time for lunch and rest!

Late afternoon both finals were scheduled.

First final 100 back. With entry music chosen by the first seeded swimmer the tone was set for race and with the telephone hotline set up between Eindhoven and Sheffield the race plans had been agreed between Mark and Hendrik.

A solid start resulted in Hendrik steadily building throughout the race and with a high 28 opener he still left himself plenty to do in order to break the 59s. In the last 25m Hendrik increased the pace and with a strong finish he ended the race in 58.62s with a second and a half lead on number 2, his club friend, Hessel Broekstra. First gold medal secured!

Day 2 English and Dutch Nationals 

With the Sheffield English Nationals swimmers still on their warm up, Hendrik, over in The Netherlands, had already started the morning session with three races, two qualifiers and one final. First race was 100m fly as a qualifier and with less than 20 mins between this race and the 50m back, Hendrik had to swim a tactical race in order to secure a finals position as well as leaving enough in the tank for the 50m back.

With a sensible approach Hendrik qualified as 5th fastest for the 100 fly finals, to be held on late Saturday afternoon.  Next was 50m back where he was fastest qualified in what was generally a strong field. Following a solid start Hendrik kept up the pace and turned first after 25m though with competition still close, he kept the right balance and actually increased his lead and finished first with a new PB of 27.42s. Second gold secured.

Back in Eindhoven, Hendrik's 100 fly was the first event of the afternoon with 50 free and relays to follow. The event planning is extremely tight with short recovery times between sessions and Hendrik had to accept that the podium was well out of reach and swim another tactical race. Eventually he finished in 1:03, well above his recent PB but with the knowledge that he still had enough left for later races.

The next event was 50 free where Hendrik was 2nd seeded with a fresh seasons PB and with differences very small, all to play for. The race did not disappoint and he started well which resulted in him turning joint first. Whilst throwing all but the kitchen sink in the last 15 metres, he ended with a time just above his pb at 24.42 in 3rd place. The winning time was 24.21s for Simon Claasen. 
Final event of the day was the 4x100 Medley relay where his Dutch club was able to enter a team for the first time ever. In the A league the team was the youngest of the 8 qualifiers with three 14 year olds and one 13 year old whereas many of the other teams only had 15/14 year olds. Overall 7th seeded there was all to play and after the 100 back the team was narrowly second but could not maintain their position though they ended a very respectable 5th overall in the Netherlands which was a massive team achievement. (final time 4:15.20)
After two days of racing: two gold and two bronze medals. Sunday final race day with all to swim for in 100 free and 200 back.

Meanwhile in Sheffield , Dominic started the Woking races with  a solid 100m breaststroke time of 1:04.51. 

 The Woking freestyle sprinters of Alex Smith, Matt Ferguson, Brin Dorrell and Owen Morgan took on the best national sprinters and were delighted not only to make the final, but to be seeded 3rd English relay team. Lots of rest ordered before the evening’s final.

A long wait for the Open 4 x 50m final,  but certanly a wait worthwhile for the excitement to come. Woking's opening swimmer, Alex Smith gave the team a stellar start with a first leg of  22.72 sec, doing well not to follow the swimmer in the adjacent lane who false started.  Matthew  was next and delivered a 23.41 split, followed by Brin who stepped up to the occasion with a fabulous PB split of 23.42 sec. Lying in 4th (English) place, Owen had all to swim for and once again delivered for the team in a time of 22.30 sec, leaving the team touching in 4th (English team) place and just outiside the medals by 0.3 seconds.  This was an amazing performance from the Woking boys and men, up against the great senior teams on the night.

Day 3 English and Dutch Nationals 

Day 3 of English Nationals and Brin was to undertake both the 50m fly and 100m backstroke. After a hard couple of days, Brin was delighted to pull out a PB in 50m fly in a time of 26.56sec  followed by a solid backstroke swim of 1:01.68. A great few days for Brin in Sheffield.

Meanwhile over at the final day of the Dutch Nationals, all had a special opening with all swimmers waking up to a white landscape. Fortunately this did not impact the swimmers in getting to the pool on time as yet warm up commenced again at 7.30am.

First race of the day was the 100 free which preceded the 50 fly and 200 back stroke. the 100 free was a prelims and it was critical not to expend too much energy whilst at the same time secure a final slot. Hendrik consolidated his race well and ended just above his PB with a 7th seeding.

Normally he would have started the 50 fly but with a clear aim and race plan for the 200 back, he decided to forego this race and instead focus on the backstroke.

His recent time of 2:07 had him seeded  first but his race plan was to go faster and attack the Dutch National Record. The hotline with Mark worked well and together a race plan was agreed. Following a solid start Hendrik managed to open well and pull through to 1:02 at the half way point and with the lead starting to grow, so did his confidence in attacking the old record which at that point was broadcasted by the announcer. Hendrik increased effort levels in the last 75m and whilst legs were burning he set a new Dutch Record at 2:05.97! Mission accomplished: 3 gold medals in 50, 100, 200 back as well as now being the Dutch record holder for 200 back short course and long course.

In the final hours of the event, still two more races, the finals of the 100m free style as well as the 4x100 free style relays.

Following a tactical series swim, Hendrik was seeded 7th for the 100m finals; close enough to the pace setters and with a good chance to climb up the table. The start was good and at the halfway point the pace was high and Hendrik was in podium contention though with Simon Claasen pulling away from the pack in blistering pace, only place two and three were left to fight for. Ultimately he had to settle for 3rd place with a new PB of 53.96s, an improvement of nearly 0.3 of his recent pb and just shy of 2nd place with a margin of 0.14. First place went to Simon Claasen with a phenomenal time of 52.19s. Hendrik’s team mate Kai Zwerver swam into 4th position with a new pb as well.
Final event of the day and indeed the championships was the 4x100 relay where FZC’54/de Vikings seeded again their first team ever and with the youngest average age clearly the odds were against them. However having made it to the A finals was a result in itself with 3 fourteen years olds and 1 thirteen year old. Whilst they all swam their lungs out, a final placing of 7th was very respectable out of a total of 11 teams. A great experience for all 4 swimmers who never swam together and gelled well as a team. A special mention goes to David, who as the youngest swimmer in the team shared the full load and to Hessel who swam despite an injury as he did not want to let the team down. Well done to David, Kai, Hessel and Hendrik!!
A final mention goes to the two Dutch coaches, Yvonne and Arno who supported Hendrik as a full member of the team and of course to Mark who was available on the phone for remote support .........”stick with the race plan Hendrik” ........
This concludes the Dutch SC Championships in Eindhoven; 3 days of fierce competition at all levels, a fantastic venue, taking a few medals home, a 7 hours journey back home on Monday and Tuesday back to training. Bring on Christmas !

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