A very exciting, very noisy and closely fought first round of the 2016 Arena League saw positions change dramatically throughout the evening. In the end Hemel finished fifth with only 36 points separating third from eighth. Congratulations to Jack Spence who won both his individual races, and to Jack Christie who won the 100 breast in a new open Club record time. There were 14 other top three finishes, with a special mention to Alice Fender who swam the crucial first event of the evening, the 200 IM, for the first time in an Arena competition and finished third despite swimming up an age group, with a new PB and setting a new age group record; all despite the start being reset five times because of technical problems.
There were individual top three finishes for Josh Gaines (200 IM), Holly Robinson (50 back and 50 free), Mattias Morse (100 breast), Alice Fender (200 IM and 100 free), Eleanor Bevan (100 breast, an excellent achievement swimming up an age group), Ashley Coombs (100 free) and Georgia Purkis (100 breast). There were relay top three finishes for the u12 free and medley squad (Grace Cawley, Freya Goad, Elizabeth Kelly and Holly Robinson), the u16 free squad (Leanne Abrey, Eleanor Bevan, Alice Fender and Shona McKenna), and the boys open free squad (Jack Christie, Ashley Coombs, Kyle Holmes, Jacob Hutchings, Harrison Newbury-Kemp and Jack Spence).
There were thirteen PBs set in the individual races with Lewis Clark, Jonny Farrow, Mille Herbert and Mattias Morse all significantly improving their times.
Overall this was the fourth fastest team Hemel has ever fielded in the competition with new Club records for the competition set by Alice, Ashley, Jack Christie and Georgia. But above all it reflects a really strong performance by the team overall. So well done to everyone who swam on the evening – Millie Anderton, Seyi Bankole, Tilly Beckwith, Freya Beresford, Seve Carrillo de Albornoz, Lewis Clark, Joe Coldwell, Kira Doyle, Finley Guest, Becky Hopper, Keelin McKenna, Harrison Newbury-Kemp, Henry Newbury-Kemp, Matthieu Perrault, Sam Ward, Rebecca Sewell, Nathan Whiting and Paige Wilding – all of whom contributed significantly to the result.
Finally a word of thanks for the poolside support. To new Head Coach Oliver Waddington, taking full charge of an Arena team for the first time, George Cawley, Alan Coldwell, Lois Moore and Lauren Wilding.