Written by Jez Birds
Thursday, 12 March 2015
OMG I can't believe it, I've never known 2 weekends quite like this before! So after thanking Ricky for the opener we can look at the second brilliantly successful weekend at this years County Blocks, and with more P.Bs a plenty and debut medals in the mix it really was a cracker! It was also a weekend that saw arguably the most disqualifications ever witnessed in a single competition - was the swimming extra bad? More mistakes than usual? Or was it perhaps the cacophony of white clad, narrow eyed, death-stalker like embodiments of regulation that have more commonly become known as 'officials' (no offence intended, officials we love you and could not run these galas without your continued support)!! They were around poolside in force this weekend - a busy gala being the perfect opportunity to train up more willing volunteer parents in the skills of reading the race, spotting the mistakes and ensuring the meet runs by the rules. Boy did they spot, and though Henleaze had its fair share, it's all good feedback to take back into the training pool and fuel our fire to get better, better, better!!
But back to the swimming at hand and the weekend kicked off with the 400 freestyle - no entries in the boys but massive PBs for all in the girls event with Molly Huckle and Oriana Munden sharing the spoils with the highest placed finishes in their respective age groups with a very respectable 5th. Into the 100 breast and a fantastic swim for Performance athlete Jimmy Flanaghan who, at the tender age of 27, notched a lifetime best to secure a gold medal in the 18 and over age group, before dropping a further 2 seconds in the Championship final to claim silver. A second gold for the day in the girls event for 13 year old Alysia Maestri who dropped over a second to claim the top spot was followed by a solid performance from Abi Bowring who claimed silver in the 18 and overs.
The boys 200 backstroke saw a massive PB and top 8 finish for Luca Gunawardena (12 years) and another silver medal, this time for Poland and BHSCs own Michal Kotlewski. Mike was again in the medals, this time with a bronze in the 200m IM, finishing close behind our other Polish contingent Bartek Karpisz; who in a tough fought Championship final, just managed to hold off Mike in a 'Pole-ar Challenge' to claim the bronze... Martha Richards continued her great debut to the blocks finishing 5th in the 10 year old girls event whilst Catherine Brooke (12) enjoyed the same result in her favourite event. Oriana claimed the top spot in the 14 year competition with another PB and great example of how we should be kicking off the walls!!
A couple of milestone breakers to mention in the boys 100 freestyle and a massive congratulations to Sam Youngman and Robbie Macleod who both swam sub minute for the first time with times of 59.52 and 59.66 respectively. A big up to Club Captain Will Darby also, who having been entered on a 59.6 and having witnessed the exploits of Robbie and Sam, stepped up to the mark by dropping over 2 seconds to swim a 57.53! Good job Cap'n! Jimmy F was also in the silver medals again posting a seasons best in the 18s category. In the girls event Frankie Gilpin finished just outside the medals with a PB and 4th place finish, whist Alysia was involved again in the top 3 with a silver medal, only to be matched by team mate Oriana Munden who claimed silver in the 14s age group. In the 18s age category Annie Brown collected yet another gold medal of her campaign with our female Club Captain Holly Tanner narrowly missing out on a bronze medal by just 2/10ths of a second!
The final session of weekend saw Jimmy F qualify into the Championship Final of the boys 200m breaststroke in 5th spot, proving his claim that he 'took it easy' by smashing the final from lane 1 and earning his second Championship silver with a 6 second PB. There was another gold for Alysia in the girls event followed by a magnificent silver medal for 'queen of the under-waters' Lucinda Larnach, outdoing Jimmy and dropping 7 seconds to claim her prize!
There were further great swims and BIG PBs for Frejya Conger (11), Helena Conger (13) and Rebecca Wheatcroft (16) (400 fr - 24, 11 and 13 seconds respectively); Saskia Maestri (12 years 100 br - 5 seconds); Sean Simmonds (10 years 100 IM - 10 seconds); Eliza Barratt (12), Helena Conger (13) and Leonie Milne (13) (girls 200 bk - 5 seconds, 5 seconds and 9 seconds respectively); Eliza Barratt (12 years 200 IM - 8 seconds); Lulu Watts (12) and Helena Conger (13) (200 br - 8 and 5 seconds respectively);
A further big congratulations (forgive me if I missed someone!!!) to Lucy Thornton, Una Jenkins, Gabby Chance, Maddy Hollick, Eloise Molyneux Gibbs, Rachel Harris, Lottie Leigh, Grace Caple and Charlie Waters who all joined in the PB revolution; and after a length injury lay off prior to Xmas it was great to see Sam Marshall (about a foot taller) getting back to form and on par with his best so early into his recovery!
Well done all and a big thank you to Hilary for the poolside help and everyone else for your amazing support of the swimmers (some sore throats on Monday morning I bet!!) 2 weeks to go, then it's time for episode 3 - revenge of the relays!!! Bring it on....