Making a splash at Wiltshire bash

Date: April 21 2007 Location: Link Centre UK Event: Centenary Inter-County Gala (25m)

WILTSHIRE Amateur Swimming Association held a special inter-county gala at the Link Centre on Saturday as part of their 2007 centenary celebrations.

Five teams took part – Devon, Cornwall, Gloucestershire and two Wiltshire sides A and B. Hampshire were due to compete as well but unfortunately pulled out.

An array of guests were invited to the special occasion and were led by Anita Lonsborough MBE, the last British women’s Olympic swimming gold medallist (Rome 1960 200m breaststroke), and her husband Hugh Porter MBE, four-times world cycling 5,000m pursuit gold medallist and BBC swimming and cycling commentator.

In a highly competitive gala Devon just came out on top from Wiltshire A by six and a half points with Gloucestershire third and Wiltshire B beating Cornwall for fourth spot.

Wiltshire A supplied 23 of the winners in the 61-event gala which included a Masters section – 17 individual and six relays. And the B team recorded two wins from Bethan Smith (girls 25yrs+ 50m fly) and Georgia Dymoke (girls 12/14yrs 100m back).

The county produced a clean sweep (1st and 2nd) in four events – boys 12/14yrs 100m breaststroke Peter Wasielewski and Cathal Westman; girls 15/17yrs 100m fly Tilly Gray and Stacey Wood; girls 18/24yrs 50m free Andrea Alleyne and Branwen Harris; boys 9/11yrs 50m back Kane Baker and Joshua Garg.

Making a rare appearance for Wiltshire was three-time Olympian Jaime King, 30, who retired from competitive swimming prior to the 2004 Athens Games. Wiltshire’s only other Olympian, Brian Jenkins, Tokyo 1964, was unable to attend and swim as he was away from the town.

King competed in three events, but not in her favoured breaststroke discipline, and collected two victories.

She produced a fine last freestyle leg to give Wiltshire victory in the girls 25+yrs 4x50m medley relay but was pipped on the touch by the Gloucester swimmer in the 50m freestyle.

However, she showed her real class in the 100m individual medley coming from third to first in the third leg – 25m breaststroke – to take an easy victory.

“I don’t really swim competitively anymore, I’m too old,” she said. “But I am enjoying it today and seeing some old friends.

“There is no pressure on me today which is nice. Obviously I want to win but it doesn’t really matter.

“The thing that has really surprised me from the days I used to swim for the county is the intensity and competitiveness of it all.”

Also competing in the Masters sections and showing his class also was Chris Jones who represented Scotland in the Commonwealth Games last year.

Wiltshire made an excellent start with Sophie Roberts dead-heating in the opening event, girls 9/11yrs 50m freestyle, and with a win from Peter Wasielewski in event four they led both Gloucester and Devon until race eight both counties passed them.

However, they were quickly back into second spot but from then onwards always trailing Devon , the eventual winners.

At 20 events Devon had moved 12 points clear but a purple patch of four wins in a row – Jamie Butler, Tilly Gray, Aaron Lee and girls 18/24 yrs 200m medley relay – between races 24-28 brought Wiltshire to within three points at 144.5 to 141.5.

And it got even tighter as wins for Chris Jones (2), Andrea Alleyne and girls 15/17yrs 200m medley relay team plus several second places brought Wiltshire to within a point at event 40 with third placed Gloucester way back on 168.5 points.

Devon edged three points clear at the 50 event mark but pulled eight points clear with only two races remaining.

However, Wiltshire A had the last say with wins from Jon Audis and the mixed 10x50m freestyle cannon relay team to cut Devon ‘s final winning margin to just six points.

It was an excellent performance by Wiltshire against one of the strongest counties in the south of England .

Gala presentations after the conclusion of the Meet to the five competing county team’s boys and girls captains were made by former Olympic champion Anita Lonsborough and Wilts president Jean Pitfield.

Other guests of honour attending the gala included Councillor Michael Barnes (deputy mayor of Swindon), Bob Margetts (president, English Amateur Swimming Association), Keith Pring (president, South West Counties ASA), Jean Pitfield (president, Wiltshire ASA), Steve Ward (president, Devon ASA), Mike Rawbone (president, Cornwall ASA), Kate Savory (president, Somerset ASA), Brian Hey, Julia Airlie, Sarah Ingram, Margaret Smith Phyllis Nicholls, Glen Craig, Dave Greenwood (Wiltshire ASA officials), Hugh Porter (BBC commentator and former World 5,000m Pursuit Cycling champion), and a host of past Wilts presidents.

Wiltshire A winners Individual: Sophie Roberts (9/11yrs 50m free); Sophie Hawkins (12/14yrs 100m IM); Natalie Montezuma (15/17yrs 100m back); Tilly Gray (15/17yrs 100m fly); Andrea Alleyne (18/24yrs 50m free); Kathleen Baker (18/24yrs 50m breaststroke); Jaime King (25yrs&o 100m IM); Charlotte Barnes 15/17yrs 100m breaststroke); Peter Wasielewski (12/14yrs 100m breaststroke); Andi Manley (25yrs&o 50m fly); Jamie Butler (12/14yrs 100m back); Aaron Lee (15/17yrs 100m fly); Chris Jones (25yrs&o 50m free, 50m breastroke); Kane Baker (9/11yrs 50m back); Jon Audis (25yrs&o 100m IM, 50m back).

Relays: Girls 9/11yrs 200m medley (Briony Merritt, Katie Carter, Samantha Berry and Sophie Roberts); girls 25yrs&o 200m medley (Rebecca Smith, Jo Ovens, Sarah Lock, Jaime King); girls 18/24yrs 200m medley (Rachael Steele, Kath Baker, Sarah Christmas, Andrea Alleyne); girls 15/17yrs 200m medley (Natalie Montezuma, Charlotte Barnes, Tilly Gray, Katie Hall); boys 12/14yrs 200m medley (Jamie Butler, Sam Clayton, Peter Wasielewski, Matthew Jones); Mixed 10x50m freestyle cannon.

Wiltshire B winners Individual: Bethan Smith (girls 25yrs&o 50m fly) and Georgia Dymoke (girls 12/14yrs 100m back).

RESULT 1 Devon 301.5pts; 2 Wiltshire A 295; 3 Gloucestershire 259; 4 Wiltshire B 200.5; 5 Cornwall 148.

Source: Swindon Advertiser (Dave Eaton) 24 04 07

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