Opportunity knocks for British swimmers…Dolphin’s national preview
One of the changes to British Swimming’s new national competition calendar is to provide “home nation” championships allowing swimmers to nominate either England, Scotland or Wales as their applicable home country and the chance to qualify for their respective summer championships. These three championships, in addition to the top level British Summer Championships, provide more opportunity than ever before for swimmers to compete at national level. Swindon Dolphin have nine qualifiers this year with Hannah Brown, Fraser Durston, William Davies, Olivia Flack. Joshua Fox, Charlotte Gardo, Regan Jefferies, Lauren Matthews and James Watson all ranking high enough to make their nominated home nations championships.
Dolphin’s National Nine
As a precursor to the Scottish Home Nations Championships, in late June Dolphin qualifier Hannah Brown competed in the Scottish National Open Swimming Championships at Tolcross, Glasgow, site of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The meet was the perfect opportunity for Brown to gain some valuable long course experience ahead of the Summer Champs and the personal best gained in the 200m breaststroke will certainly have increased her confidence when she compete in the 50m event in Edinburgh.
Fraser Durston’s nationals are already underway having competed in the Swim Wales Open Water Championships at Bryn Bach Park, Tredegar in early July. Durston qualified for the 3km event by virtue of a pool 1500m freestyle qualifying time and put on a sterling performance to win silver, giving the 17 year old an excellent start to his national competition campaign. Durston has a busy program in the main block of competition, competing in eight events and will certainly be looking to add to his medal tally.
This will be William Davies’ second nationals appearance and he has bounced back well from an injury earlier in the year. Davies has qualified for both the 1500m freestyle and the 3km open water and despite an enjoyable experience winning the Wiltshire Open Water Championships, will look to only focus on the national pool event this year. The 15 year old goes into the event ranked eighth but with only four seconds separating him from the top spot and only 10 seconds between all 15 competitors’ entry times, medals are certainly up for grabs.
Olivia Flack will be looking to capitalise on her season’s highlight of setting new age group club records in the 100m and 200m backstroke. Competing in the 50m and 200m backstroke, Flack will be aiming to put in some equally good performances in Sheffield as from next season she starts a sports scholarship at Sherbourne School and training with Yeovil Swimming Club.
First time qualifier Joshua Fox probably thought that his regional medal in the 1500m freestyle would be the highlight of his season. Little did he realise at the time that the swim was good enough to just get his foot in the door on a national competition. The achievement has clearly improved his confidence in the training pool which should in turn pay dividends on race day.
Charlotte Gardo achieved national qualification in the 50m breaststroke last year and this year has made the grade in the 200m event. This has inevitably led to a change in training regime for the 18 year old with a new focus on strength and endurance replacing last year’s speed and power. Gardo has coped well with the change although arguably it is more of a move back to an event that she is perhaps more suited to. Following what has been a tough but consistent block of training, a good performance should be on the cards.
Regan Jefferies has produced some fast 200m breaststroke swims this season although a clearer race plan and more consistent pacing would almost certainly reap further improvements when he takes to the Sheffield national stage for the first time. No doubt the 15 year old will enjoy the experience and look to build on what should be many more years of national level competition.
Lauren Matthews has been disappointed with some of her swims this season, although she should be encouraged by her most recent long course performances at the Cardiff meet in May where she swam a long awaited personal best in the 400m individual medley and came close to a season’s best in the 200m butterfly; the very two events she will be competing in at Sheffield. This is Matthew’s fourth national competition and hopefully this experience will ensure a more relaxed approach than in previous years which could benefit her performance.
James Watson has had an excellent season, showing his mettle at the Regional Championships in May where he competed in nine events including seven finals. This required some tough back-to-back racing over the three day meet which should make the prospect of his six national events over six days a relatively easy one. No doubt that Watson will give each and every race his absolute best and ranked 4th on the 1500m freestyle and 200m individual medley means a national medal is a real possibility.
The main blocks of the home nation’s championships kick off with the Swim Wales Summer Open Meet from 23rd to 29th July at the Wales National Pool, Swansea. Meanwhile at the Royal Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh, the Scottish Summer Meet takes place from the 24th to 26th July. Following the British Championships commencing late July, the national season concludes with the English swimmers battling it out at the ASA National Summer Championships 4th to 9th August at Ponds Forge, Sheffield.