Jones Saves the Best ‘till Last as Sx3 go National
Eighteen of Swindon’s top 11 to 18 year old swimmers were competing against the best in the country at the British Gas ASA National Age Group and Youth Championships held between 22nd July and 2nd August at Ponds Forge Sheffield. The first five days of competition saw the younger Age Group swimmers in action, with Aiko Takahashi, Samantha Berry and Charlotte Pitts competing in individual events. Takahashi was on top form reaching finals in the 100m and 200m backstroke and the 200m individual medley with her best overall finish being a 5th in the 100m backstroke. Going into the 200m final ranked 9th, a tremendous swim saw the 11 year old take almost 2 seconds off her heat time and climb up the places to finish 6th. A similar improved performance from heat to final in the 200m individual medley also saw her finish an impressive 6th. Takahashi also competed in the 100m freestyle and 200m freestyle. Samantha Berry’s return to the National stage saw her compete in the 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 100m butterfly and 200m butterfly whilst debutante Charlotte Pitts finished an impressive 9th in the 1500m freestyle. Takahashi and Pitts were joined by Emily Weston, Sophie Roberts and Ella Luffman to compete in the 4 x 100m and 4 x 200m freestyle relay with Charlotte Gardo joining in the action for the 4 x 100m medley. In the overall final BAGCAT standings, Takahashi found herself just 4 points short of a top ten place, finishing in 12th position. The first day of the Youth competition saw Sx3 backstroke specialists James Magness, Liam Herbert and Joe Kerslake in the 100m backstroke with Herbert and Kerslake also competing in the 200m event later on in the week. Also racing on the first day was Elizabeth Beckett whose performance in the 100m breaststroke earned her a place in the semi-final, finishing 19th. Beckett also swam in the 200m breaststroke, 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley. Another veteran of the National stage, Melanie Agius competed in the 800m freestyle and 1500m freestyle. Sophie Hawkins started her national campaign with an appearance in the 100m freestyle, and also went on to compete in the 100m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 50m freestyle. Dean Williamson, no stranger to going past the heat stages in National competition, did not disappoint and reached the semi-finals in his 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly finishing 18th and 20th respectively. Reaching the final of his favoured 200m butterfly, the 17 year old finished a respectable 9th. Matthew Rose, meanwhile, competing in his first National finals at the age of 18, swam gutsy 50m and 100m freestyle swims achieving lifetime bests in both. Also joining Rose for the 4 x 200m freestyle relay were Nicholas Southern, Kieron German and Jacob Roberts who put in a brave performance against some stiff competition from other clubs. Swindon’s best overall performances of the Championships undoubtedly came from Alex Jones. Competing in just three of the six events in which he qualified clearly paid dividends as the 17 year old reached finals in all three. Finishing down in 10th position in the final of both the 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley clearly spurred Jones on in the final of the 400m individual medley on the last day of competition. Ranked 6th off the start, Jones pulled out all the stops to drop 4 seconds off his heat time and finish in the silver medal position in a new Wiltshire County record time of 4:31.05.