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Multiple Gold Medals for Dolphin at Regional Championships

Event: Swim England South West Regional Youth and Age Group Championships

Venue: Plymouth Life Centre / Bristol Hengrove / Millfield School

Date: 22nd & 23rd April, 13th & 14th May (Age Group), 29th April to 1st May (Youth)


The Swim England South West Regional Swimming Championships 2023 took place across three weekends in April and May, with a strong Swindon Dolphin presence of 37 swimmers in the youth and age-group competitions. For some, it was their first experience of a regional event, whilst for others it was a chance to peak as they build towards the National Championships in the summer.


The Swindon Dolphin team exceeded all expectations, finishing 8th in the top club standings, behind Mount Kelly, Millfield School, Plymouth Leander, Poole, City of Bristol, Soundwell and Exeter. Rounding off the top 10 were Taunton Deane and Team Bath AS. The swimmers achieved a huge haul of 29 medals; 5 gold, 10 silver and 14 bronze medals from 11 swimmers.

Neve, Betina, Eva, Sophie, Jess, Phoebe, Caitlin

Phoebe Kerley (12) built upon her performances from last year in the 11 to 12-year-old age category, making finals in 5 of the 17 events that she raced in. Despite disappointment in the 100m butterfly, where Kerley moved on the block before the starting signal which disqualified her from reaching the final where she would have been seeded fastest, the 12-year-old set new personal best times in almost every event entered. Kerley finished the meet with 2 regional championship titles in the 200m butterfly in 02:48.17 and 1500m freestyle in 20:25.82, and 2 silver medals in the 400m Individual Medley in 05:55.68 and 800m freestyle in 10:33.76.


Ella Williams (16) had a fantastic meet despite injury impacting training in the weeks leading up to the event. Competing in the multi-classification category, the S13 swimmer set new personal best times in 3 of her 6 events. Achieving silver and bronze medals early in the meet was not enough for the 16-year-old who grabbed herself a well-deserved gold medal in the 100m breaststroke event in 01:33.13. Silver medals were achieved in the 100m butterfly, 200m Individual Medley and 400m freestyle, as well as bronze in the 50m and 100m freestyle.


Sophie King (14) put on a stunning display in her final year of the Age Group Competition in the 14-years age category, making finals in 5 of the 7 events entered. King finished the Championships with 1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals. Winning gold in the 200m Individual Medley last year meant that King was keen to repeat this in the 14-years age category this year, which she accomplished in 02:30.96, setting a new age group club record. Silver medals came in the 400m Individual Medley with a time of 05:23.57, just missing out on the age group club record, with bronze medals in the 50m and 200m breaststroke, finishing in 36.87 and 02:50.99 respectively.


Betina Puszkarska (13) was in peak condition for her third Regional Championships, achieving brilliant new personal best times in 8 of her 9 events. Setting the tone for Dolphin’s campaign in the Championships in the first finals of the meet, Puszkarska achieved gold in the 13-year-old final of the 200m butterfly in 02:40.18, building on the silver medal she won last year in the same event. Bronze came in the 400m individual medley for the 13-year-old with a new personal best time of 05:35.41. Puszkarska also made finals in the 200m Backstroke (6th) and 200m breaststroke (8th).


Eva Higginbotham (14) furthered the success on the first weekend of the Regional Championships, finishing the meet with a total of 5 new personal best times. In her favoured events, the 200m Individual Medley, 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle, Higginbotham hoped to swim fast enough for a final placing and a medal. With her sights set on the process, final placings came in all 3 events along with 3 silver medals, which were an excellent reward for her efforts in the 14-years age category. New age group club records were set in both the 50m and 100m freestyle.

Fred Carter, Riley Watts, Lucas Carter

In the Youth competition, Lucas Carter (15) set personal best times in 5 of his 9 events with a focus on breaststroke events where Carter achieved final placings in all three distances. An incredible opening swim in the 100m breaststroke set a new age group club record and a well-deserved bronze medal in 01:09.80. In the 50m breaststroke, despite being ranked first into the final, Carter came away with a respectable silver medal in 31.74 and in the 200m breaststroke stepped up to finish in 5th in 02:39.18.


Fred Carter (17) was in fine form at the Championships, with 7 out of 8 new personal best times set. An outstanding swim came in the 100m breaststroke, where 2 seconds were taken off his personal best time, finishing in 01:07.28, a new age group club record. Delighted, the 17-year-old went on to achieve a bronze medal in the final. In the shorter event, the 50m breaststroke, another new personal best time was set in 30.52 and a bronze medal. In the 200m distance, Carter finished 02:32.46, a huge new personal best time and 5th place finish. In the 100m butterfly, Carter finished the heat in joint 10th, earning him a swim off with a swimmer from Soundwell for a place in the final of the event. In the swim off, Fred set another best time in 01:00.44, just short of a final placing. Qualifying for the final of the 200m individual medley in 5th, Carter seized the opportunity to take another bronze medal in a new personal best time of 02:17.47. Also qualifying for the final of the 50m freestyle, Carter finished with a personal best time in 10th.


Jess Smith (17) put on a great display throughout the Championships, with 6 new personal best times out of 8 races. Kicking off the Championships with the 1500m freestyle, Smith held a consistent pace and stuck to her race plan resulting in a time of 18:35.51 and a bronze medal for her efforts. A bronze medal struck again in the 200m freestyle for the 17-year-old, with a new personal best time of 02:10.25, a new 16 years age group club record, just 0.83 of a second away from the open club record. Smith also reached finals in the 100m butterfly (8th), 100m freestyle (9th) and 200m butterfly (7th) events. In the 400m and 800m freestyle events, Smith was just short of the medals with a 4th and 5th place finish respectively.


Adding to the medal haul was Riley Watts (12), Neve Porton (15) and Caitlin Gulliver (19) who all achieved a bronze medal each. Watts biggest success came in the 200m backstroke, where a huge personal best time saw him finish in 02:42.72. Watts also made the final of the 100m backstroke, where a personal best time saw him finish 5th. With a focus on her freestyle events, Porton made the final of the 50m and 100m freestyle events in the 15-years age category. In the 100m distance, Porton finished in 9th position. In the shorter distance, Porton set a new personal best time of 28.27 in the final to achieve a bronze medal, and a new 14-year age group club record. Gulliver set new age group club records for 18 years and over in the 50m backstroke and 1500m freestyle, with a bronze medal to boot in the 1500m in 18:50.90. Making finals in the 100m and 200m backstroke events, Gulliver finished in a respectable 8th place in both events.


Swindon Dolphin’s strength in depth allowed them to be able to compete in the South West Summer Regional Relay events, with both 14 to 16 years teams and 17 and over relay teams for girls and boys. Results were as follows,


· Girls 14-16 years 4x100 Freestyle Team: 04:13.30 in 8th place (Eva, Neve, Sophie K and Megan)

· Girls 14-16 years 4x200 Freestyle Team: 09:16.88 in 10th place (Eva, Neve, Sophie K and Megan)

· Girls 14-16 years 4x100 Medley Team: 04:45.78 in 11th place (Eva, Sophie K, Megan and Neve)

· Girls 17 years/over 4x200 Freestyle Team: 09:10.63 in 9th place (Jess P, Emilie, Caitlin, Jess S)

· Girls 17 years/over 4x100 Medley Team: 04:40.04 in 11th place (Jess P, Emilie, Caitlin, Jess S)

· Boys 14-16 years 4x100 Medley Team: 04:26.71 in 13th place (Zak, Ben, Lucas C and Farrleigh)

· Boys 14-16 years 4x100 Freestyle Team: 03:54.29 in 10th place (Zak, Ben, Lucas C and Farrleigh)

· Boys 17 years/over 4x100 Medley Team: 04:16.41 in 12th place (Ethan, Lucas P, Alfie S, Fred)


Other swimmers who achieved final placings were Harriet Matthews (11) who competed in the 11/12 years 200m butterfly final in 8th place and Etta Crowley (14) in the 200m butterfly in 8th place. Gethin Jenks (13) hit personal best times in 12 out of 15 swims, with a final in the 200m breaststroke in 7th place and 200m butterfly in 8th place. Harry Owens (11) reached the 11/12 years 200m butterfly final, finishing in 6th place, with personal best times in all of his swims.


Sophie Leonard (15) swam new personal best times in all four of her swims, with a final placing in the 100m breaststroke event finishing in 6th place. Megan Watts (15) made the finals of the 100m butterfly in 5th and 200m butterfly in 10th. Lily Hunt (15) made the final of the 50m breaststroke with a 6th place finish. Emilie Gulliver (19) made finals in the 100m breaststroke in 10th and 200m breaststroke in 8th. Zak Parker (16) had an excellent meet, with personal best times in all 6 of his events, with a final placing in the 200m backstroke finishing in 7th place. Lucas Pearcey (17) made the final of the 100m and 200m breaststroke, with 8th place finishes in both events. Farrleigh Greaves (15) made the final of the 100m backstroke in 10th, 200m backstroke in 10th, 50m freestyle in 10th and 100m freestyle in 9th. Ethan Gough (17) made the final of the 50m backstroke in 10th place.


Other swimmers taking part in the Championships were Jacob Burton (13) who’s best place finish came in the 200m butterfly, finishing in 10th place. Evan Kane (13) competed in the 400m freestyle, finishing in 19th. Josh Newton (13) had his best placing in the 400m Individual Medley, finishing in 6th place. Max Paton (14) finished 10th in the 200m butterfly event. Alfie Workman’s (14) best placing came in the 200m backstroke in 13th place. Zara Halpin (12) finished 9th in the 50m breaststroke event and 13th in the 100m backstroke event. Caitlyn Hillier (13) had great swims in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke events, finishing in 15th, 16th and 17th positions.


Evie Brayshaw (11), Olivia Hamlett (13), Mykhailo Uniiat (14), Charlotte Gulliver (15), Molly Smithson (15), Aaryamaan Singh (15) and Ben Tait (16) also took part in the Regional Championships, with personal best times for many.


With the National Qualifying window now closed, our sights now turn to seeing how many of our swimmers have qualified for the 2023 National Championships, either in the British Summer Championships, Swim England National Summer Meet or Swim Wales Summer Meet.

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