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Matthews and Gardo swell national numbers

Event:  Derventio eXcel Level 1 Open Meet Venue:  Ponds Forge, Sheffield Date: 5th, 6th April 2014

Lauren Matthews and Charlotte Gardo increased Dolphin’s national qualifier tally to six last weekend as they produced performances earning them the right to compete at the National Youth Championships in the summer.  Olivia Flack also achieved her 200m backstroke national qualifying time having achieved her first in the 100m event just a few weeks earlier.

The national trio were part of a Dolphin squad of 25 competing at the Derventio eXcel Level 1 Open Meet at Ponds Forge, Sheffield.  There was some degree of expectation from the Dolphin followers who could sense there were new national times on the horizon but could not be sure who would strike next.  The wait was short, and in the fourth event of the meet Olivia Flack swam a superb 200m backstroke to earn the 12 year old her second national qualifying time of the season.  Strike two came in the first event of the afternoon as Lauren Matthews produced a 2:22.89 200m butterfly swim that booked her return ticket to Sheffield in August.

Lauren Matthews ~ 200m butterfly national qualifier

Charlotte Gardo had come close to her 50m breaststroke qualifying time earlier in the season and in her first event of this meet, the 100m breaststroke went through the half way point 0.2s under the 50m qualifying mark although official qualification would require a repeat of this performance in the 50m event. There was little doubt that Gardo would achieve this and a 35.09 swim earned the 18 year old her first ever national qualifying time and a new club record.

Charlotte Gardo ~ 50m breaststroke national qualifier

There are just two more opportunities in Dolphin’s competition calendar to achieve 2014 national qualifying times; the South West regional Championships and the City of Cardiff Open Meet. Rebecca Flack came agonisingly close to joining Gardo as a 50m breaststroke qualifier and will be looking to realise her ambition this season. William Davies’ times continue to fall and given his age and stage of development, this rate of improvement is likely to remain for some time. Liam Jefferies enjoyed a busy and successful meet with his best performance coming in the last event, the 400m freestyle, finishing within just 4 seconds of his national qualifying time; not an unrealistic target over the coming weeks.

Hosts Derventio eXcel, coached by former Swindon Dolphin Chief Coach Andi Manley, enjoy phenomenal success at national and international level, and inevitably the meet attracted a high quality of club and competitor. Travelling to meets of this calibre is an essential part of a swimmer’s development and inevitably it would take at least a national standard swimmer to win medals. Olivia Flack was Dolphin’s only gold medallist with first places in the 50m and 200m backstroke. Bronze medals went to Lauren Matthews in her 200m butterfly swim and Charlotte Pitts in the 200m freestyle.

Dolphin Chief Coach Louise Clayton was pleased with the team’s performances over the weekend. “It’s invaluable for swimmers to compete at a meet of this standard and the environment clearly contributes towards bringing out the best in them.  I am sure there are still more achievements to come from both the youth and the age group swimmers and we will be focusing on specific targets in the lead up to the regional championships”.


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