Another year and another Gloucester Blocks has passed – but what a Blocks it was. Firstly a huge congratulations to all qualifiers and racers, particularly those new to the Blocks and who had achieved their very first qualifying times – this year our total number qualified topped 90, which was a P.B before the swimming had even begun!!
Talking of P.Bs there were far too many to mention individually as just about every race from every swimmer produced a best time. But it wasn’t just the P.Bs that were so enthralling to watch this year – it was the development of swimmers throughout all ages and the levels of skill that we showcased during the entire competition. Seldom was there a race with a Henleaze hat where the said hat wasn’t the last to appear at the surface after the start; double leg kicks were in abundance with no breathing on breakouts; turns were fast (sometimes too fast and there just wasn’t the time to put both hands on the wall!!!!!); strokes were looking slick, heads were down and the all-important last 5 metres were swum with real conviction.
So to all… Congratulations for qualifying… Congratulations for racing…. Congratulations for P.B’ing… But most of all… Congratulations for being the best you can be, racing with heart and sharing that enthusiasm and encouragement with your team mates!! We were loud, we were fast, we were awesome!! Go Henleaze…
The report wouldn’t be complete though without a few mentions to those who started the year like any other, but who are now soldiering through March as a Gloucester County Medallist and Champion…
The Blocks started with a win in the Girls 12 year olds 800m freestyle with new recruit Louise Lord romping to victory by 7 seconds. Luca Gunawardena and Will Halliwell then joined in the medals by placing third each in the boys 14 and 15 years 50m Butterfly respectively with Matt Bray claiming silver in the 16 and over age group. Louise then took her second medal – by finishing second – in the girls 50m Free and was followed by Frankie Gilpin taking silver also in the 14 year olds, Alysia Maestri winning bronze in the 15s and the amazing 5 times winner of the 16 and over 50 Free Annie Brown claiming her 6th title.
The next day saw Louise in the medals again with another silver in the 100m Back followed by Abbie Phipps claiming a silver in the 14 year age group, Alysia taking her second bronze as a 15 year old and Oriana Munden gaining silver in the 16 and overs. Will Halliwell was back in the pool with another silver this time in the 100 IM and a double medal haul in the 16 and over saw James Edmonds steal silver from Jimmy Flanaghan’s bronze.
Onto Event 15 and the 100 Back for the boys was capped with an amazing gold for Sean Simmons in the 12 year age group, who went into the final 3rd fastest having already swum a P.B, only to smash another couple of seconds off and blowing the rest of the field away. A repeat performance from James Edmonds in the 16 and over category saw him take his second second of the champs!!!! In the Girls 100 IM Louise Lord took a bronze before Alysia broke home to her first victory of the meet and Oriana stole bronze by just 1/10th of a second!!! The final race of the day – and arguably one of the best races of the entire meet – saw James Flanaghan just sneak silver after being pipped out of gold: the time separating the top three was just 0.25 of a second!!!!!
Session 6 paved way for the Girls 50m Fly and Louise Lord took gold, followed by Frankie Gilpin taking silver, Alysia Maestri another bronze and Oriana too claiming the shiny off-brown medal! The surprise of the meet (at least for his parents) was the emersion of Luca Gunawardena as a force awoken on the 50m Breast where he took silver before James Edmonds claimed his first gold with victory in the 16 and (way) overs. The final event of the day was the Girls 200 Free and yet another gold medal performance from Louise Lord ended another successful day at GL1.
Saturday again and Will Halliwell took a silver in the 15’s 50m Free whereas Matt Bray decided he wanted a bronze this time to add to his silver from the 50 Fly! There was a silver for Louise again in action in the 100m Free before Rebecca Guy stormed home to victory in the 16 and overs with a new County record, followed by Olivia Planteau de Maroussem who claimed third in her debut Gloucester Blocks swim J
Into the afternoon session and a gold for Louise in the 200m Fly which was followed by a gold-silver (stepping up 1 place each from the last battle) combo for James Edmonds (gold) and Jimmy Flanaghan (silver) in the 16 and over 100m Breast. Louise then popped up with a cheeky bronze in the 50m Back, of which saw Frankie Gilpin taking a silver and Alysia Maestri and Oriana Munden both claiming gold and standing aloft as Junior and Senior Champion respectively! Into the 400 IM (yes we enter it sometimes) and a bronze medal for Michal Kotlewski (not the one in the hat or the green fellow with one eye) was a great way to end the day!
Sunday came with 2 silvers straight off for Inez Borkowska and Alysia Maestri in the Girls 13 and 15 years 50m Breast, followed by a bronze for Halliwell the younger – a great swim from Jimmy H in the 13 years 100m Fly! Luca took a bronze in the same event and Bartek Karpisz (the hat guy) earned a silver also in the 16 and over band. The final event of the morning heralded a gold for Louise Lord in the 12’s 200m Back that set the standard for the final session of the penultimate weekend.
A second bronze for Jimmy Halliwell and a silver for Luca this time in the 200m Fly started the afternoon and was closely followed by a silver again for Inez and another gold winning Junior Champion performance from Alysia, both in the Girls 100m Breast. There was a double on the cards for Sean Simmonds who went into the 12 years 50m Back final in pole position and he held his nerve superbly to win gold by a finger nail! Jimmy Halliwell took a silver this time in the same event with brother Will claiming gold and Callum Greenwood taking silver in the overs category. The day was then finished off with a silver for Louise Lord in the 400 IM (look at us!!!!) One more day and a few relays to go…
Louise Lord (who we’ve mentioned a few times) started where she left off on the final day of racing with a silver in the 100m Fly and the medal rainbow was completed in the 14 year olds with a great gold from Frankie Gilpin (200 next year???) and a bronze from the formidable Abbie Phipps (200 next year!!!) Will Halliwell added a bronze to his repertoire in the 15’s 400m Free before Frankie was again amongst the medals in the Girls 200m IM with a bronze and a further addition to her collection saw Alysia Maestri grab a silver in the same event.
The final session of this year’s blocks was soon in action and commenced with a fantastic P.B and silver medal for Will Halliwell in the 100m Free and another bronze for Matt Bray in the 16 and overs. Louise Lord then gained a silver in the 400m Free followed by Will again taking silver also - this time in the 200m IM - and a third bronze for Michal Kotlewski in the men’s race. Done for another year… or were we…
What a tremendous day – far too exciting though and I think most swimmers were left with a rather hoarse throat by the end of it – in addition of course to the tired arms and legs from so many frantic swims! Overall Bristol Henleaze finished an amazing 2nd on the day, just behind a very strong and consistent Gloucester team, but incredible efforts nonetheless from all swimmers who took part! Here’s how we faired throughout the day:
Girls 13-14 200m Medley Gold (Barratt; Borkowska; Gilpin; Phipps)
Girls 15-16 200m Free Silver (Cooper; Caple; Munden; Maestri)
Boys 11-12 200m Free Gold (Butt; Simmons; Yeo; Pasparne)
Boys 10/over 400m Medley Gold (Greenwood; Kotlewski; Karpisz; D Pirret)
Girls 13-14 200m Free Gold (Gilpin; Barratt; Chance; Phipps)
Girls 15-16 200m Medley Silver (Munden; Maestri; Cooper; Caple)
Boys 9-10 200m Free 5th (Lyall; Czekalski; Farnfield; Hughes)
Boys 10/over 400m Free Silver (Karpisz; Kotlewski; D Pirret; Greenwood)
Girls 10/over 800m Free Silver (Planteau de Marrousem; Munden; Maestri; Guy)
Boys 15-16 200m Free 8th (Franks; Dunbar; Baker; W Halliwell)
Mixed 17/over 200m Free Gold (Brown; Flanaghan; Wheatcroft; Bray)
Girls 10/over 400m Medley 4th (PLanteau de Marrousem; G Pirret; Tanner; Guy)
Girls 11-12 200m Free 6th (M Hornung; S Hornung; Doel; M Barratt)
Mixed 17/over 200m Medley Gold (Brown; Flanaghan; Bray; Wheatcroft)
Boys 13-14 200m Free 8th (Scudder; West; J Halliwell; Gunawardena)
Girls 10/over 400m Free Silver (Planteau de Marrousem; G Pirret; Tanner; Guy)
Boys 10/over 800m Free Silver (Kotlewski; D Pirret; Karpisz; Greenwood)
A special mention also to the 9-10 years Girls Medley team, who initially missed out on the final but were promoted from 13th to 8th place after a rather lengthy enquiry that resulted in the disqualification of several teams. Unfortunately, the girls had already headed home but we shall forever brand Team Bassham; Bodmer; Edwards and Watson as Gloucester County finallists!
A final congratulations to all of you who have made it through this report!!!