12 swimmers from Hemel Hempstead Swimming Club took part in East Region Open Water Swimming Championships on Sunday 17th July 2016, the competition was held at the Whitlingham Country Park in Norwich, the weather was very warm around 25 degrees and with the water temperature of 20.5 degrees this ensured some fast and enjoyable swimming.
The day started with the 3Km event which consisted of 3 x 1Km loops of the lake, Harrison Newbury-Kemp and Chris Cox had a great battle with the two being locked together for the whole swim, it came down to a final sprint which Harrison took on the touch from Chris by a very close 0.3 seconds, that swim saw them finish 5th and 6th in their age group (13-16 years) overall. Also competing in the event was David Cox (Chris’s Dad) and Tony Gaines, Tony managed to take the Bronze Medal in his age group (40-49 years) whilst David was 4th overall in his age group (50-59 years). David is currently in training for a cross channel relay swim so 3Km may have been a bit short for him.
The next event was the 800m which is an event designed for those wishing to try open water swimming without having to swim too far, this event saw Sam Gaines take a Silver in his age group (15-16 years) with a very strong swim being close to the lead for the whole race. Freya Beresford took part in her first ever open water event which saw her finish a very credible 8th in her age group (11-12 years), she tells us she enjoyed the experience and plans to race again next year.
The 1500m is by far the most popular event with 3 separate waves of swimmers taking to the lake for one complete lap, we had 5 swimmers taking part all who swam very well. Chloe Purkis took Gold in her age group (17-19 years) which we believe was due to her desire to get out of the lake quickly after having seen a snake swimming earlier in the day which is her biggest phobia!
The 1500m saw brothers Cameron and Lewis Clark take part in the first Open Water race with Cameron taking 19th and Lewis 30th, both were competing in the same age group. Georgia Purkis took 11th and Alice Fender 4th overall. The 1500m Open Water Age groups are very wide with swimmers aged 12–16 years competing for the same medals.
The final event of the day was the 5Km which involved 3 complete laps of the lake, Heidi Gibbons took part in what was her first Open Water event so a real ‘leap into the deep end’, the race was later in the day so the lake was starting to get quite choppy in the unsheltered sections which made the swim an even bigger challenge. Heidi took home the gold medal in her age group.
Overall a very successful day in swimming terms and the nice weather ensured the spectators had a relaxing day. Special mention to recent Hemel old boy Max Jelfs who won his age group giving him qualification for the National Open Water Event.
Full results are available here