Journey’s Start at County Champs
In the month where the cream of Britain’s top swimmers have reached the pinnacle of their careers by qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games, thousands of young swimmers across the country set off on the journey that could one day lead them to the same destination. The Wiltshire BAGCAT competition at the Link Centre saw the county’s best 9 to 13 year olds competing over three days of competition and departing on just such a quest.
Swimmers compete in a full range of individual events with a points system determining overall places in each age group. The competition also provides the opportunity for swimmers to achieve qualifying times to the next level of regional and national competition.
Swindon Dolphin dominated the boys’ 12 year old age group, with James Watson picking up an impressive 9 gold from as many swims, setting personal bests in each and is now just a small step away from making the national grade. Competing in the same age group, Ben Sarachi also had a successful competition, collecting 4 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze as well as achieving four new regional qualifying times. The 12 year old girls also made their presence known with Rebecca Matthews winning 2 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze and fast improving Ella Wardale winning 1 gold and 5 silver. Wardale also achieved her first ever regional qualifying time in the 100m backstroke.
Ella Wardale ~ 2012 Regional Qualifier
Victoria Tainty’s return to form saw her pick up 3 bronze and 2 silver as well as regional qualifying times in the 200m individual medley and 200m butterfly. Josh Fox won a hard earned silver in the 400m freestyle and 3 bronze while Abbie Hawkins, Georgia Dicks and Millie Jeans all achieved podium places and regional qualifying times. Abigail Ross added the 100m backstroke regional qualifying time to her 200m backstroke achieved earlier in the season and Denice Gardo also added the 200m backstroke to her regional portfolio with an impressive swim.
In the overall age group competition, James Watson and Ben Sarachi inevitably finished in first and second place respectively in the boys 12 years. Rebecca Matthews and Victoria Tainty both finished third in their respective age groups, whilst there were fourth places for Josh Fox and Millie Jeans, and sixth places for Calum Marriott and Georgia Dicks.
It is widely believed that it takes at least 10 years, or 10,000 hours for talented athletes to achieve sporting excellence. For all the young swimmers competing over the three days of competition, this was just the start of what for many should be a long and enjoyable experience.