An extraordinary performance by Charlie Rayner saw him take five golds at the ASA Regional Championships in the 50, 100 and 200 breast, the 100 fly and the 200 IM. There were new Club open records for Charlie in the 100 and 200 breast and Georgia Purkis in the 400 and 800 free, and despite the inexperience of some of the other swimmers at this level of competition there were an impressive nine other top ten finishes from Jonny Farrow, Alice Fender, Max Jelfs and Georgia Purkis who along with Izzy Anderton all also set new age group records. Overall there were 24 personal best times, 17 new Club records, 16 top ten finishes and 10 finalists from 29 swims.
Nine 14 and under swimmers from Hemel spent the Bank Holiday weekend in Norwich at the ASA East Regional Summer Championships and not, perhaps to some people’s regret, at Radio 1’s “Big Weekend” which took place just across the road in full view (and hearing!) of the pool. Leanne Abrey, Izzy Anderton, Eleanor Bevan, Jonny Farrow, Alice Fender, Shona McKenna and Georgia Purkis had all qualified to compete against the best swimmers from Bedfordshire, Cambridge, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk for the first time, joining old hands Max Jelfs and Charlie Rayner.
Charlie had a truly outstanding meet; there really aren’t enough superlatives to describe his performance. He dominated the competition in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events but faced stronger challenges in the 100 fly and 200 IM which he eventually won by less than a second. But he saved his best race for the last race of the weekend, the 50 breast which he won by almost the smallest margin possible of two hundredths of a second in a fitting finale to the competition. In addition to his five golds Charlie also reached the finals of the 50 free and 50 fly, he improved his already national-level 200 breaststroke time by nearly 5 seconds and he broke his own age group records in the 200 IM and the 50 free.
Max Jelfs managed an impressive 5 top ten finishes. In the 100 back he finished 8th equal in the heats of the 100 back, making the final after an exciting swim off at the end of the session which meant he had to swim the event three times in quick succession, but his times of 1:10, 1:09 and 1:10 were a tribute to his training and tenacity. He set a new age group record in the swim off, breaking a record that had stood for 9 years, before going on to set age group records in both the 50 and the 200 back, the latter with a significant PB of more than 7 seconds to finish 6th. He also finished 6th in both the 400 and the 1500 free where he broke his own age group record set last month – by one hundredth of a second!.
Jonny Farrow entered the competition seeded 19th in both the 100 and 200 back, but thanks to improvements of over 3 and 6 seconds respectively finished 10th and 8th, setting new age group records in both events and qualifying for the final of the 200 back by just a tenth of a second in a dramatic heat which he won in the last few strokes.
Georgia Purkis took 8th place in the 13 yr old 800 free by less than a second in a close fought race, setting a new Club open record, with Alice Fender (who came 9th in her age group) and Eleanor Bevan also breaking the old 800 free open record. Georgia also set a new open club record in the 400 free whilst Izzy Anderton set a new age group record in the 50 back, entering the competition seeded 34th and finishing 14th. Both Leanne Abrey and Shona McKenna had a fine swims.