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Dolphin celebrate success at Nationals

Swindon Dolphin enjoyed a healthy representation at this year’s British Swimming and ASA Summer Championships with nine swimmers competing across four of the competitions. A total haul of one gold and two bronze, nine final appearances and two new club records gave plenty for the Dolphin supporters to celebrate.

Cathy Naus was first to take her marks for Dolphin, although from a jetty rather than a starting block, competing in the 3km event at the National Open Water Festival at Rother Valley Country Park. The torrential rain during the race did not bother the competitors as much as the physicality of the event itself. Despite the vastness of the field of play, Naus found herself in some physical battles herself including a sprint to the line to pick up an additional place, finishing in a creditable 17th place in a time of 41 minutes 51 seconds.

With the notable exception of those preparing to compete in the Rio Olympics, age group British rankings provided the line-up for the British Summer Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. James Watson got proceedings underway for Dolphin with the first of his eight events, the 400m freestyle. Watson set a new club record in the heats, and lowered the mark again in the final to finish a creditable 7th. The 16 year old also made the final in the 200m individual medley and finished in 8th place in the 1500m freestyle, although had to be content with lower placed finishes in his other five swims. Watson’s below par performances were largely due to an untimely illness picked up during the week, although no doubt he will recuperate over the summer break, after which he moves to the south coast to study at Plymouth College and training with the highly renowned Plymouth Leander.

Miles Farrington’s excitement at competing in his first National competition seemed to get the better of him as he clearly expended too much energy in the opening stages of his 1500m freestyle to the detriment of the tougher closing stages, finishing outside his best time. This was however, always going to be a learning experience for the 14 year old, and this should be just the first of many appearances on the national stage.

Regan Jefferies never fails to surprise, and despite getting off to a slow start in his 200m breaststroke heat managed to pull back to hold a good steady pace resulting in a new personal best and setting a new Dolphin age group best time of 2:31.47, finishing in 20th place overall.

As in 2015, Lauren Matthews was competing in the 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley although disappointingly both efforts fell short of her best time. Whilst most of her training throughout the season has focused on butterfly, Matthews’ best effort was arguably her medley, which could suggest a possible change of focus to the event for next season.

The British Summer Meet also included the Para-Swimming events and competing for Dolphin in the S14 category was Craig Harris. Personal best swims were always going to be a tough ask for Harris given he has spent the months in the lead up to the competition regaining his fitness following an illness in April that kept him away from the pool for several weeks. Two of his three events saw him finish just shy of his entry time although produced a faster swims in the finals. A pleasant surprise however was a personal best swim of 1:12.90 in the 100m breaststroke and the reward of a bronze medal for the resulting 766 British Disability Points.

The home nations’ championships followed the British Championships, with William Davies and Denice Gardo representing Dolphin at the English event in Sheffield and team-mate Fraser Durston competing in the Welsh event at Wales National Pool, Swansea.

Despite a less than ideal lead-up to the championships, Fraser Durston pulled out all the stops for his swims in Swansea. Although unable to repeat his form from the end of last season at the same meet, the 18 year old still managed to get the better of the competition, winning gold in the 400m individual medley and silver in the 200m breaststroke. It was an apt end the season for Durston, as from next year he moves to Cardiff to train with the City of Cardiff Swimming Club.

In Sheffield William Davies competed in the 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle, finishing in 14th, 12th and 13th respectively. Whilst these were not the results that Davies wanted, the experience will have pressed home the skills that the 15 year old needs to work on in order to improve on his performances next season.

Denice Gardo was Dolphin’s final competitor at Sheffield in the 100m backstroke, with an entry time that ranked her 12th in her 15 years age group. A personal best swim in the heat broke her own club record as well as earning her a 6th ranked place in the final. In the final, Gardo swam a slightly slower first 50m, although worked through the field in the second 50m to lower the club record further, agonisingly finishing just outside the medals in 4th place. For Gardo’s stage of development, the ability to improve time and ranking from heats through to same-day finals is paramount, and national medals in the future are a real possibility if she continues to build on this attribute.

Whilst these championships may have signalled the end of an era for two of Dolphin’s finest competitors as they move on to pastures new, it also highlighted some of the new talent that Dolphin has coming through the ranks. With the new season just around the corner, the door is wide open for those with the ability but above all commitment to join them on the national stage next year.

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