Sx3 Turn Heads at Regional Youths


Hot on the heels of an encouraging debut from the Swindon Swim Squad in the first round of the Sout

ern Junior League, it was the turn of the best Youth swimmers in the town to compete over 3 days in the South West Regional Championships under the banner of Sx3, at Millfield School last weekend.  A successful first outing resulted in 9 new qualifiers for the National Championships, an impressive haul of 26 medals, including 11 first place finishes, and 2 new county records.  Most satisfying of all of the results though will have been the swim that most probably secured a place at the Nationals for the Girls’ relay team, where a quartet made up of Swindon Dolphin and Tigersharks swimmers showed that the combined squad is now capable of competing at the very highest level.

Melanie Agius, Tilly Gray, Elizabeth Beckett and Sophie Hawkins joined forces on the opening day of the competition torace to silver in the 4x200m freestyle relay almost certainly booking their place at the Nationals in Sheffield later in the year with a time of 8:43.82.  The awesome foursome went on to clinch another medal in the 4x100m freestyle on Monday, finishing a close third behind Plymouth Leander and Millfield.

All four were equally impressive in the individuals events – Agius won 2 silver medals and secured new National Qualifying Times (NQTs) in the 100m, 200m and 1500m Open freestyle.  Beckett also had 2 second place finishes in the Girls’ 14/15 year age group and recorded her first NQTs of the season in the 800m freestyle and the 100m & 200m breaststroke.  In the freestyle, 15 year old, Hawkins struck gold in the 100m out sprinting Cheltenham’s Hannah McCarthy in a thrilling race, while Gray captured a gold and silver in the 200m and 100m Open butterfly respectively, achieving 2 new NQTs in the process.  Gray’s time of 1:05.38 also smashed her own Wiltshire County record in the 100m swim.

In the Boys’ 15/16 years, Alex Jones powered his way to gold and a Senior County record in the 400m Individual Medley (IM), timing his race to perfection and improving his long course NQT, to touch out his nearest rival, Simon Rex of Bath University who won the Open category.  Jones took silver in the 200m IM and bronze in the 400m freestyle.  In the same age group, Dean Williamson put in impressive performances all weekend storming to victory in the 50m butterfly and breaststroke, and collecting silvers in the 100m & 200m Butterfly.  Williamson achieved 2 new NQTs in 50m fly and 100m freestyle.

Jose Prunty was triumphant in the Girls’ 14/15 years 1500m freestyle and Kieron German snatched a bronze in the same event for the boys’ 15/16 years.�

In the open age group, Sx3 increased their medal tally further with Chris Jones winning the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke.  There was an exciting one – two in the 50m backstroke with Jon Audis holding off a strong challenge from 17 year old Aaron Lee.  Audis also finished second in the 100m backstroke, Kath Baker got a silver in the 400m IM and Andi Manley was victorious in the 100m freestyle.  There were new NQTs for Audis (50m back & breast), Manley (50m & 100m free), Chris Jones (50m free) and Nigel Masters (50m breast) which guaranteed their tickets for the ASA Championships in Liverpool in July.  In addition, quite a few other swimmers across the age groups were very close to their National Qualifying Times.

Signing off as second place overall in the medal table behind Plymouth and ahead of Bath University and Millfield School, and with nearly 60 top eight finishes, Sx3 can be very satisfied with their first major championships as an integrated Swindon team. The best under 13 year girls and under 14 year boys can now concentrate on their preparation for, and look forward to, the Regional Bagcats in June.

Sx3 Press Team

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