A momentous start to the annual Herts Major League competition saw both of Hemel’s two teams winning their respective events, beating teams from across the county. With over 60 swimmers in action there were some powerful individual performances and the best possible demonstration of the strength in depth at the Club.
31 top three finishes in 49 races including 16 first places saw the Division 1 team emerge victorious from a tough first round draw against strong opposition where there was rarely more than 10 points between first and second placed teams. The event was epitomised by the final 8×50 squadron race where only 2½ seconds separated the top four teams in a thrilling climax to the evening.
Three of the relay teams won all of their events – the open boys (Greg Baxter, Tom Frewin, Jack Spence and Freddie Woodcock), the open girls (Aimee Abrey, Emily Jelfs, Lois Moore and Grace Rayner) and the u14 boys (Sam Gaines, Max Jelfs, Harrison Mills and Charlie Rayner).
There were individual wins for Aimee Abrey, Tom Frewin, Max Jelfs, Lois Moore, Grace Rayner and Jack Spence. Special mention must be made of Charlie Rayner who won three individual events, including the 100 breaststroke against swimmers two years older than him. Thanks also to Rayne Marsh who filled in at very short notice to cover for a last minute withdrawal.
35 top three finishes in 49 races including an impressive 21 first places saw the Division 2 team to a comfortable win in their competition, over 30 points clear of their nearest rivals.
Three of the relay teams won all of their events – the open boys (Jack Christie, Josh Gaines, Matt and Tom Sherriff), the u14 boys (Jamie Ayres, Ashley Coombs, Ben Davies and Jonny Farrow) and the u14 girls (Izzy Anderton, Billy Grant, Georgia Purkis and Becci Rumble) with the open girls (Bethany Masters, Molly McLoughlin, Paige Wilding and Lauren Windsor) winning their medley relay and coming second in the free by an agonizing 100th of a second.
There were individual wins for Izzy Anderton, Reuben Balch, Jack Christie, Jonny Farrow, Billie Grant, Bethany Masters, Matt Sherriff, Tom Sherriff, Paige Wilding and Lauren Windsor. Special mention should be made of Ashley Coombs and Georgia Purkis who in addition to winning individual events also swam up an age group with each competing in five relay races to cover for last minute withdrawals.
In the individual races there were 15 personal best times, an impressive performance after a heavy competition schedule at the end of 2014 and straight after the Christmas break. The most notable improvements were from Izzy Anderton (2 secs off 100 back), Fynn Archibald (3 secs off 100 fly), Jamie Ayres (2 secs off 100 breast), Lois Goad (nearly 3 secs off 25 breast), Samuel Hutchings (nearly 3 secs off 100 back), Niall Marsden (nearly 2 secs off 25 back) and Georgia Purkis (nearly 4 secs off 100 breast and closing in on another Regional Championship time).
There were some strong performances from the younger swimmers where the team was hit by a number of last minute withdrawals for injury and sickness with special thanks to Michael Broner, Niall Marsden and Zara Rafiq-Craske who all stepped in at the last minute and performed admirably.
The whole spirit of the team was epitomised by Chloe Purkis swimming her first ever 100 fly to cover for a last minute withdrawal.
With more offers of poolside help than we could accommodate, and enthusiastic and noisy support from the gallery for the competitors at both venues, our thanks go to everyone who helped make the evening such a success.
Bring on round two!