Hemel Hempstead Swimming Club sent a team to Ipswich to compete in the first round of the National (formerly Speedo) League. The swimmers were up against some tough competition, including clubs boasting national and international level athletes. They also had to cope with a much depleted team with many absentees, particularly amongst the girls. But this did not deter them from putting up a brave fight and scoring a total of 30 personal best times along the way.
Due to low numbers many swimmers found themselves competing in age groups one, or even two, above their own. Katie McClaren, 15, opened proceedings with a gutsy swim in the Open 200m IM, later adding the 100m freestyle and the 100m butterfly in her own age group, as well as three relays.
Samantha Catchpole, who should have been in the 15-and-under age group, stepped up bravely to compete in the 100m Open butterfly and claim valuable points for her team. Amy Howard, 15, took on the Open 100m breaststroke and the Open 100m freestyle along with an incredible four relays.
Devon Prior, 11, swam in the Open medley relay as well the 100m breaststroke in both the u14 and u16 age groups and two further relays. Lois Moore, 13, scored a personal best time in the u14 100m butterfly, as well as competing in the individual 100m freestyle and the Open freestyle relay.
For the boys, Tom Sherriff, 13, broke the 30 second barrier for the first time in his 50m freestyle relay. Adam Daniell, also 13, shaved a massive five seconds off his 100m breaststroke personal best time and broke his own record once more in the 50m medley relay.
Curtis Barnett took personal best times in both his relays and the individual under-14 100m butterfly. Hannah Bagley, 11, Victoria Fisher, 12, Harrison Robb, 14, Jamie Keevill, 14, and Tom Osborn ,15, all swam personal best times in both an individual and relay event.
Other swimmers who scored personal best times were Samantha Gower, Louis Dunham, Liam Patfield, Peter Kennett, Will Stokes and Paul Cox.
Although the end result was a disappointing seventh overall, out of eight, Hemel swimmers proved that as far as commitment is concerned, no amount of obstacles can stand in their way.