Starry-Eyed in Sheffield
Event: City of Derby Level 1 Open Meet Venue: Ponds Forge, Sheffield Date: 14th and 15th January 2012
Swindon Dolphin swimmers mixed with Olympic medal hopefuls at the 2012 City of Derby Level 1 meet at Ponds Forge in Sheffield last weekend.
This was possibly the most star studded open meet in the UK for many years and was a chance to see some of the cream of the GB swimming team including Fran Halsall, Jo Jackson, Caitlin McClatchey, Lizzie Simmonds, and Swindon’s Grant Turner, all taking the opportunity for race practice ahead of the Trials in March. The sight of a Swindon Dolphin cap, in this case worn by Jon Audis lining up in the 100m backstroke final alongside world champion Liam Tancock, shows the level to which Swindon Dolphin swimmers can aspire and is testimony to the commitment and hard work of the Team Captain. The 31 year old Audis was in superb form during the weekend, more than matching Tancock for the first third of the final, and finishing the weekend with a new national qualifying time in the 50m backstroke, a new personal best in the 100m butterfly and closing on the time required to qualify for the Trials. Audis will have another chance to achieve the time at the Zonal Meet at the end of January.
Another NQT for Jon Audis in the 50m backstroke
Another to reach the national standard was Liam Herbert. Herbert swam the required long course time in an event that he had previously achieved national qualification at the regional short course meet at Millfield last November. Charlotte Pitts though fell agonisingly close to achieving the long course time in the 400m freestyle, but has the comfort of also having previously achieved the required standard at Millfield.
The younger generation of Dolphin swimmers in the shape of Georgie Pitts, Craig Harris and James Watson were far from overawed by the company they were in. Pitts had an excellent weekend with new personal best times in all four events in which she competed and looks to have put her injury problems of last season well behind her. At this rate of progress the younger Pitts can expect a very successful season. Harris was the busiest swimmer in the squad with nine events over the weekend, most of which resulted in new lifetime best times, and included a place in the 200m individual medley final. His good form also earned him a top ten finish in the 12 year old BAGCAT competition. Dolphin’s youngest swimmer at the meet, 11 year old Watson, looks to be making good progress towards a second consecutive year as a national qualifier, his one day at the meet yielding three new best times.
Other previous national qualifiers James Clark and Joe Kerslake both put in good early season performances with Clark taking the honours in two head to head battles in the 200m individual medley and 100m breaststroke and achieving comfortable personal bests in the 200m individual medley and the 50m backstroke. Kerslake is looking in the best shape that he has been in since his return to Dolphin but needs to focus on reproducing his encouraging short course form in the 50m pool.
Chief Coach Louise Clayton believes it was an important milestone for all of the Swindon Dolphin swimmers in Sheffield. “I was very pleased with the results from the meet. It was our first long course competition of the season and allowed the swimmers to post times and work on race plans. They have made a great start and need to build on this now.” Clayton also enjoyed seeing her squad line up alongside the country’s best. “The meet was of the highest quality with numerous Great British International swimmers competing. This was a great experience for all of the swimmers at the meet and an experience that is open in the future to every swimmer at the club if they show the right levels of commitment and desire.”