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Strong Show for Dolphin at County Champs

Wiltshire Age Group Championships

The 2020 Wiltshire Age Group Swimming Championships took place across two consecutive weekends in January, with a strong presence of 40 Swindon Dolphin swimmers competing against the counties top 10 to 13-year-old swimmers. The first weekend of the Championships was held at the Five Rivers Leisure Centre in Salisbury, with the second weekend held at the Link Centre, Swindon.

Success came thick and fast for the Swindon Dolphin contingent, with all swimmers displaying vast improvements in their technique, skills and aerobic capacity in all four strokes, which inevitably led to success for the team. 105 medals (49 gold, 32 silver and 24 bronze medals) were picked up along the way, with almost half of the swimmers competing achieving medals.

Particularly impressive swims in the Girls 10/11years age category came from Sophie King (11) who won a total of 10 gold medals, along with 1 silver and 1 bronze medal, and Eva Higginbotham (11) who added to this tally, winning 2 gold, 7 silver and 1 bronze medal. Lily Hazell (11) picked up a well-deserved bronze medal from the 400m IM and Betina Puszkarska (10) also achieved a bronze medal, despite being at the younger end of the age category.

Not to be outdone by the Girls, in the Boys 10/11years age category, Stanley Belcher (11) became County Champion in 7 of the 12 events he competed in, picking up silver in his other 5 events. Competing in their first county championships, Alfie Workman (11) and Finlay Holder (11) were clearly unfazed by the occasion, with Workman picking up two silver medals and Holder picking up a bronze, along with a host of personal best times.

Maya Tait (11) displayed some fine performances across the weekend, finishing in the top six in the 50m Butterfly,100m Butterfly and 100m Individual Medley, earning her place in the finals. Olivia Sieja (11) also earned herself a place in the final with a fantastic swim in the Girls 100m Breaststroke, finishing in a closely-fought fourth position.

In the next age group up, Megan Watts (12) had a sterling County Championships, finishing the meet with 6 gold and 4 silver medals. The Girls 200m Breaststroke saw a great swim from Lily Hunt (12), picking up a silver medal in the process. Sophie Leonard (12) showed some excellent skills and technique in her events, resulting in some great performances across the weekend. A great swim for Molly Smithson (12) in the 50m Breaststroke heats resulted in her achieving a place in the final, where she made subsequent improvements to finish in a mighty 4th place in the final.

Farrleigh Greaves (12) had some excellent swims, finishing in the top 6 in each of his 9 events, including 3 gold medals in his age category. Lucas Carter (12) displayed fantastic technique across the board in his events, with 4 gold medals to reward his efforts.

In the Boys 13 years age category, Zak Parker (13) and Ben Tait (13) managed to achieve five of the age group gold medals between them, along with a bundle of other medals. Tare Kadiri (13) and Joseph Williams (13) achieved a bronze medal each in the age group category, demonstrating some fine skills.

Katie Stratford (13) and Ffion Mathias (13) did not let their efforts go unnoticed across the weekends, with the girls achieving 15 medals between them, a credit to their hard work and focus in training. Ella Williams, having recently been selected by Swim England for their Para-Swimming National Foundation programme, had a great meet, improving on her skills and processes throughout the championships. Lily Ramirez-Hobbs (13) also claimed places in the finals in the 100m and 200m Butterfly.

The results of these Championships are testament to each of the swimmers’ dedication to the programme. Coaches efforts will remain focused on developing each swimmer’s technique, skills and aerobic capacity further across all four strokes, to allow them to progress further in their swimming pathway.

Other exceptional swims at the Wiltshire Age Group Championships came from Leila Cetin (10), Jacob Burton (10), Evan Kane (10), Gethin Jenks (10), Erin Evans (11), Amelia Naisby (11), Rakshave Kathirvel (11), Anika Bhartiya (11), Rowan Bowden (11), Max Paton (11), Amelia Owens (12), Olivia Dunn (12), Thomas Essam (12), Harrison Masters (12), Finlay Mutton (12), Alice Brooker (13) and Thomas Spibey (13).

Wiltshire Youth and Senior Championships

The Wiltshire Youth and Senior Championships spanned two weekends in January and February hosted at the Link Centre in Swindon. Swindon Dolphin were there in force with 22 swimmers competing. The results produced show how hard each swimmer had worked leading up to the Championships, not only on their strength and fitness, but on the finer details of skills and technique.

Freddie Carter (14) led the way with the medal tally picking up 4 golds, 4 silver and 2 bronze. This also included 4 Junior Championship Awards in the 200m Breaststroke, 200m IM, 100m Breaststroke and 200m Butterfly. Aimee Masters (15) was close behind, picking up 3 gold and 1 bronze medal, plus 3 Junior Championship Awards in the 50m Backstroke, 100m Backstroke and 200m Backstroke. Other gold-medal winners in their age groups came from Ethan Gough (14) winning 3 gold and 3 bronze medals, and Noah Parker (16) with 2 gold and 2 silver medals.

Peter Harper (22), competing in the disability category as an S14, won a sterling six medals for his efforts. Giacomo Fatica (S9) (14), having recently won bronze at the National Para-Swimming Championships in Manchester, picked up 1 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals at the Wiltshire Championships in some fine displays of swimming.

Alexi Costello (14) had a great first Wiltshire County Championships, picking up a bronze medal. Alfie Smithson (14) and Theo Hancock (14) added to the medal tally in the Boys 14yrs age group, reaching 4 bronze medals between them. Not to be outdone by the Boys, Erin Parker (14), Olivia Gough (16) and Alice Lockey (18) added to the tally, achieving 1 silver and 4 bronze medals between them.

Swindon Dolphin had many swimmers reaching finals for their respective age groups after finishing in the top six of their age group, including Chloe McKenna (14), Keira Essam (14), Ema Mladenova (15), Madeleine Maysey (15) and Jacob Cremin (14). Other fantastic swims came from Lewis Kane (14), Jessica Paton (15), Esther Williams (17) and Hannah Bailey (19), who all swum new personal best times.

800m and 1500m Freestyle Championships

The 800m Freestyle event was held at Marlborough College with Stanley Belcher (11), Eva Higginbotham (11), Sophie Leonard (12), Lily Hunt (12), Molly Smithson (12), Joseph Williams (13), Katie Stratford (13) and Ffion Mathias (13) all hoping to test their aerobic endurance at the event.

Stanley Belcher (11), Eva Higginbotham (11) and Katie Stratford (13) all became County Champions in their age group categories, with Sophie Leonard picking up a silver. Ffion Mathias picked up a bronze medal for her efforts in the 13 years age group category.

The 1500m Freestyle event was held at the Link Centre with Stanley Belcher (11), Sophie Leonard (12), Ffion Mathias (13), Katie Stratford (13), Freddie Carter (14) and Alfie Smithson (14) all taking part. Swindon Dolphin gained a few more County Champions in the event, including gold for Stanley Belcher, Freddie Carter and Ffion Mathias. Again, Sophie Leonard achieved a Silver medal and Alfie Smithson won a well-deserved Bronze.

It is hoped that more Swindon Dolphin swimmers will opt to build on the momentum of the 800m and 1500m competitors in the future. Although swimmers display great technique and skill in their swimming, they also develop excellent aerobic endurance through the programme, which would stand them in great stead for these longer events.

All swimmers who competed at the Wiltshire County Championships 2020 were a true credit to themselves, Swindon Dolphin and Wiltshire County. There is clearly some uncertainty of what the remainder of this year has in store, but what is certain is that swimmers will pick up where they left off; resuming work on their skills, technique and aerobic capacity as soon as they are able to.

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