Dolphin reap rewards at Regionals as records fall
With the national qualification window closing at the end of May, Swindon Dolphin’s performance level training program was largely geared towards yielding best times at the Regional Youth Championships over the May Bank Holiday weekend in Plymouth , with one last chance to post times at the Cardiff Open Meet at the end of May. In the lead up to this at the end of April, swimmers also competed at the Millfield and Taunton Dean Open Meet, all of which provided a busy and so far fruitful few months of competition for Dolphin. Two new club records, four new age group club records, and a haul of three gold, one silver and three bronze at the regional championships underlined Dolphin’s continued progression as one of the leading competitive clubs in the South West.
Competing at the Millfield and Taunton Deane Meet provided swimmers with a good base to work from in the subsequent lead up to the Regional Championships. Results from the younger “age group” (14 years and under) swimmers looked particularly impressive as they continued to lower their times from the Bristol Meet. Olivia Flack (13) made a long awaited improvement in her 200m backstroke time to not only set a new age group record but also a new open club record that had stood for 10 years. Dolphin’s older youth swimmers also had their fair share of success with William Davies (14) again lowering his 400m freestyle age group club record he had broken only a few weeks earlier at Bristol. Regan Jefferies (15) had been disappointed with his previous 200m breaststroke performances leading up to the Millfield meet, but a change of race tactic with a more relaxed opening 50m paid dividends as he produced one of Dolphin’s outstanding swims of the meet, stopping the clock at an impressive 2:38.19.
Twenty five swimmers made their way to the Plymouth Life Centre for the Regional Youth Championships in May, including five age group swimmers competing in the relay events. Competing in South West Region relay events is always tough given the depth in quality of competing clubs, although being the opening event of the sessions provides a good team building boost to proceedings. Dolphin’s best relay performance came in the boys 14 to 16 years 4 x 100m freestyle relay of Jack Plumb, Josh Fox, William Davies and James Watson with an 8th place finish ahead of Gloucester, Bournemouth and Poole, all previously familiar contenders at the National Championship relay events. The girls 4 x 100m medley relay also had something to shout about with Olivia Flack setting a new age group club record on the opening backstroke leg. An open club record also fell to Fraser Durston in the 400m individual medley, his 4:50.82 shaving one hundredth of a second off the time he set at the Swim Wales Closed Championships a month earlier.
Dolphin’s first regional medal of 2015 came in the boys 200m breaststroke. In the heats, Regan Jefferies could not repeat the time he set at Millfield a few weeks earlier. However a reminder of the race plan he had used at Millfield paid off again and Jefferies improved on his 4th ranked place to take a worthy bronze medal. Peter Harper, competing in the S14 multi-disability events swelled Dolphin’s medal haul by adding a further two bronze. It was however James Watson who stole the show for Dolphin. Watson made the top 10 in all of his 9 swims, producing personal best performances in each and set a new age group club record in the 200m individual medley. Gold medals in the medley, 100m breaststroke and 1500m freestyle and a silver medal in the 400m freestyle were just rewards for the 15 year old who has stuck rigidly to the training program in the lead up to the Championships. Watson was rarely away from poolside over the three days of competition, progressing to finals in seven events. Other swimmers making the top 10 and earning second swims were Jon Audis, Lauren Matthews, Regan Jefferies, Sean Purvis and William Davies.
Dolphin coach Anthony Clark was pleased with the club’s recent performances. “It has been a pleasure to work with the swimmers at these Championships and in the meets leading up to them. The work and focus I have seen in training has certainly been in evidence in the competition pool and this has translated into some excellent performances.”
Dolphin’s Chief Coach Louise Oliver who has until recently been on maternity leave also made an appearance coaching at the regional championships. Oliver plans a phased return to work over the next few months in the lead up to the British Summer Championships in July and August.