On 12th October 2013 Hemel Hempstead made their debut in the top flight Premier Division of the Arena League London Division, the League is made up of 55 clubs from London and surrounding Areas with Hemel Hempstead taking their place in the top Division of 16 clubs for the first time in their History, a great way for the club to celebrate their centenary.
The team travelled to Basildon in Essex to compete with 7 other clubs, it was a tough battle all night with the club eventually finishing in 8th place narrowly missing out on 7th. It should be taken into account that some of the clubs in this gala namely Ealing and Camden boast a membership of 1750 and 2500 swimmers respectively compared to Hemels modest 240 members, both of the London clubs had Olympians and International swimmers in their teams.
The swimmers competed well producing 43 personal bests on the night many of them beating times they had produced only a week before at a gala in Aylesbury. The highest placed swimmer on the night was Eleanor Bevan (10) who finished 3rd knocking 3 seconds off her 50m Breaststroke Personal Best time, Joshua Gaines (15) was 4th in the 100m Backstroke as was Alex Hatt in her favoured 100m Breaststroke event , Alex returned home from her Sports Studies at Loughborough University just to compete for the club. Charles Rayner (12) was 4th in the 100m Breaststroke taking 4 seconds off his personal best time, he was also 5th in the 100m Butterfly again with a Personal Best Time.
Many of the swimmers contributed to the team total with top 6 finishes, the ladies Open medley Relay of Lois Moore, Alex Hatt, Hannah Bagley and Rachel Barber produced a Club Best time of 2.13.77 – The final 6 x 50m Freestyle mens relay gave an exciting finish to the gala with the whole team screaming for the team of Freddie Woodcock, Conner Reynolds, Sam Piggott, Jack Christie, Matt Sherriff and Tom Sherriff finishing 0.4 seconds behind the club best time in 5th Place.
Swimmers of the Gala were Eleanor Bevan, Aimee Abrey , Charles Rayner and Freddie Woodcock.
Alan Doyle Head Coach commented ‘We faced some extremely tough competition but I was really impressed with our swimmers attitude and commitment, they competed for every place and never stopped cheering for their teammates all night long’
Round two of the Arena League takes Place on 9th November