Swindon Dolphin re-affirmed their dominance in performance swimming within both the Town and the County with an overall convincing performance at this year’s county swimming championships.
Prior to the main block of sprint and middle distance events at the Link Centre, the Championships got off the ground in early February with the distance freestyle events at Salisbury. In the boy’s 1500m, Fraser Durston and James Watson were the only two real contenders for the senior title, racing neck and neck throughout with Durston just touching out Watson on the finish to take the senior championship. Finishing third and fourth respectively behind Watson were team-mates Joshua Fox and Miles Farrington, with the three boys also filling the top three spots in the junior championships. Jakes Lewis was pleased with his seventh place finish in the senior placings and all five boys took the top award in their respective age groups. Dolphin’s girls fared less well overall in their 800m event although Cathy Naus achieved a creditable 4th place in the junior championship and 6th in the senior.
The overall success enjoyed by Dolphin at Salisbury was an indication of what was to come at the Link Centre a few weeks later as they picked up the lion’s share of championship titles. 15 senior championships, 9 junior championships, five relay gold and 58 age group gold ensured the top spot on the overall medal table once again. Dolphin’s James Watson was amongst the most decorated swimmers of the meet with 6 junior championships to his name, but could not quite match the brilliance of Bradford on Avon’s national champion Jordan Ludlam who collected 9 junior top places. Ludlam’s team mate Georgia Keen matched Watson’s success with 6 titles. Other Dolphin juniors who picked up a top award were Cathy Naus, Olivia Flack and Millie Jeans.
It was as usual in the senior championships that Dolphin really showed their depth. Although the biggest number of individual wins went to the prolific Daniella Whiting of Trowbridge with five, Dolphin amassed 15 titles overall. Fraser Durston, Lauren Matthews and Sean Purvis each won three apiece, Matthew Sambrook and James Clark won two each and individual wins went to Jon Audis and Charlotte Gardo. The swims carried additional bonuses for some with an age group best time for Sambrook in the 50m butterfly with a time of 26.51s and a championship best time for Matthews for her impressive 2:20.46s 200m butterfly. For Audis, the 19 and over 100m backstroke award marked an incredible 11 years of holding the title and with the 34 year old still posting times under the 60 second mark, he shows no signs of giving up the trophy soon.
As well as the aforementioned 11 Dolphin competitors who climbed to the top of the podium to collect championship awards a further 10 also won age group honours. Amber Davies, Annie Ward, Douglas Alexander, Ella Wardale, Ellen Hicken, Hannah Brown, Jack Plumb, Joshua Fox, Sam Elliott and Stuart Gibbs all proved they were the best in the county for their category, many earning the accolade for the first time in their careers.
Dolphin embraced their strong team ethos by entering two teams in each of the eight 4 x 50m relay events. The strategy proved dividends as they won three junior gold, junior silver and junior bronze and in the open events won two gold and three bronze. The tally was sufficient to again award Dolphin the top relay team trophy. James Clark also again collected the top male swim award for his 51.95s effort in the 100m freestyle.