Dolphin Claim National Best
From the archive, first published Wednesday 13th Dec 2006.
Swindon Dolphin ASC made history with the highest ever finish from a Wiltshire club in the UK’s premier club competition – the National Speedo League at Weston-super-Mare on Saturday.
After reaching the Western final in the last four consecutive seasons, Dolphin surpassed their previous best of fifth position with a stunning series of performances to rank as the third best club in the west behind winners Plymouth Leander and runners-up Millfield.
With Dolphin going into the final showdown seeded in seventh position based on the previous two rounds there was no room for sentiment as chief coach Andi Manley selected his fastest squad in a bid to outgun Bournemouth Dolphins, City of Cardiff, Ferndown, Taunton Deane and close rivals Tigersharks.
The opening nine races gave little indication of what was to follow, with Dolphin struggling to find their form with just two fourth places finishes falling to the girls’ 9-11 freestyle foursome and the boys’ 13 and under medley relay squad.
Event 10 proved to be a turning point for the Dolphin club with the first of four victories with the mens’ open medley quartet of Jon Audis, Chris Jones, Andi Manley and Mark Tanner putting on a show of strength to rack up maximum points.
With Plymouth and Millfield pulling clear the battle lines were drawn for the remaining six clubs to contest third place with Dolphin’s Elizabeth Beckett and Cathal Westman scoring vital third-place finishes in the 13 and under 100m breaststroke to keep the pressure on.
Dolphin became genuine contenders for medal honours as they went on a spree of quality performances with chief coach Manley throwing down the gauntlet with third place in the open 100m butterfly.
Sam Berry (50m butterfly), James Clark (50m butterfly) and Rosie Wells (100m backstroke) took up the challenge with successive second-places to catapult Dolphin up to third spot.
Audis made amends in the open 100m backstroke to clock 58.86 seconds to snatch second place after earlier slipping a place in the closing metres to Tigersharks’ Alex Jones in the 4x50m individual medley.
Dolphin’s junior swimmers were in peak form with Katie Carter and James Clark, both 11, setting personal best times in the 50m breaststroke with second and first places respectively.
Tim Berry continued his impressive run of form, moving through the field in the 100m butterfly to secure a valuable second place with Chris Jones, fresh from the US Open, bagging first place and another personal best in the open 100m breaststroke in 1:03.48 seconds.
Dolphin then had to settle for a series of lower placed finishes before the girls’ 9-11 years medley quartet of Victoria Jennings, Katie Carter, Samantha Berry and Rebecca Saunders restored order with a third place.
With the competition nearing its conclusion, Dolphin slipped to eighth place in two successive events before disaster struck with disqualification in the penultimate event.
With the advantage swinging in Bournemouth’s favour, Dolphin pulled out all the stops in the final event, the men’s open 6x50m freestyle relay to snatch maximum points in a pulsating race to fend off the challenge from national champions Millfield with Bournemouth slipping to fifth.
Dolphin then scooped bronze in the mens’ relay competition to make it a weekend of double celebration for the Milton Road-based club.
Chief coach Manley said: “Our swimmers responded in exactly the way that we asked them to with faster performances in 80 per cent of events when compared with round two.
“It speaks volumes for the team spirit in the club with those swimmers who either didn’t make the final cut or were forced out through injury making the journey south to cheer their teammates on”.
Plymouth Leander 336 points, Millfield 336, Swindon Dolphin 203, Bournemouth Dolphins 201, Taunton Deane 190, City of Cardiff 187, Tigersharks 174, Ferndown 169.
Swindon Dolphin are now recruiting swimmers. Contact Steve Cryer on 07868 622422 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the archive http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk © Newsquest Media Group 2006