Berkhamsted in the fast lane at East Region Championships

Berkhamsted's young guns did their club proud at the East Region Youth Championships
Berkhamsted's young guns did their club proud at the East Region Youth Championships

It was a busy time for Berkhamsted swimmers as 11 youngsters aged 15-17 competed in the East Region Youth Championships at UEA Sportspark in Norwich.

The event began with Ellen Northwood taking on the gruelling 200m butterfly and dropping her long course PB by just over 3.5s to qualify for the club’s first final of the year in seventh place.

Berkhamsted's young guns did their club proud at the East Region Youth Championships

Berkhamsted's young guns did their club proud at the East Region Youth Championships

Next up were 50m backstroke sprinters Mason Brand and Chris Nel. Brand lowered his long course PB to 31.88 and Nel did the same, posting 30.86 for 13th and 14th in the region, respectively. Nel’s time broke the club record by almost half a second.

Amy Pemberton improved by well over a second in the 50m free, qualifying for the evening’s final in third place with a rapid 28.72s.

In the open 100m breaststroke, Jack Filer and Ollie Hurst clocked 1:13.85 and 1:13.01, while Abbie Hurst pinched fourth spot in the 200m breast with 2:50.19 from a seeding of sixth.

In the boys’ 100m fly, Jamie Hoyes popped out a 4.5s PB with 1:04.52 for 15th place.

Mark Strakosch flew the Berkhamsted flag at the Newmarket Masters

Mark Strakosch flew the Berkhamsted flag at the Newmarket Masters

The afternoon session began with James Chennells qualifying in fourth place for the 100m free, going sub-60 with 59.10s, followed by Chris Nel who went 1:00.28 for seventh in his heat.

Abbie Hurst and Pemberton were back in the pool in the 50 breast alongside Eli MacDonald in her first ever regional swim.

Pemberton cleaned up her heat with an impressive 38.04s, MacDonald posted 39.14 and then Hurst lowered her PB by just 1/10th of a second to go into the final placed second.

The final individual swimmer of the day was Chennells in the 400m IM where he finished in 11th place overall with a massive drop of nearly 16s on his PB in 5:14.65 (club record).

The day 1 finals began with Northwood improving from heat to final by more than 5s to come home fifth overall in a new PB of 2:43.15.

Next up was Pemberton and another improvement from the heat, posting 28.38s for fourth place and a club record time.

Chennells was disqualified in his 100 free final but showed great underwater skill.

Abbie Hurst, in the first of her two finals on the day, maintained her fourth ranking in the 200m breast (2:49:88 – club record) and then stepped up again for her 50m breast final where she took a tremendous gold in a new best time and club record of 35.15s to successfully defend her title from 2015.

Day 2 began with Hoyes and Nel taking on the 50m free sprint. Hoyes romped home to a heat win in 26.28s, while Nel went on to reduce his PB from last year’s nationals, recording 25.82s for third in his heat.

Abbie Hurst stepped up with renewed confidence for her 100m breast and qualified for the final in third fastest spot, while brother Ollie clocked 2:42.72 (PB) in the 200m breast.

Ellen Northwood then took on the 100m fly and placed fourth in heat (ninth overall) with 1:12.85 and was followed in the pool by Chennells in the 400m free. He stormed through his heat to place eighth overall with 4:32.98, dropping almost 14s.

Chennells then set another club record in the 200m back, equalling his short course PB of 2:23.62 as he cleaned up in his heat to make the final in third spot.

Pemberton then joined her club-mates in the night’s finals with an impressive 1:02.68 in the 100m free, slicing over 3s from her previous best to final in sixth spot.

The last two individuals on the day were Ollie Hurst and Filer in the 50m breast. Filer went quicker than ever before with 32.31 following Hurst’s heat win in 32.88.

The finals for Day 2 saw Abbie Hurst improve her ranking again in the 100m breast with a fantastic silver medal in which she lowered her best by 1.1s, posting 1:17.00 for yet another club best performance.

Ellen Northwood improved on her heat time in the 100m fly by posting 1:11.72 (PB) to secure seventh place.

Chennells could not quite reproduce his speed from the heat in his 200m back final but should be pleased with his fifth place in the region in 2:24.69.

Pemberton then also improved in her 100m free final, taking her PB down to 1:02.51 as she finished in seventh.

The third and final day’s racing began with Chennells taking on the 1500m free where he finished in a 24s shattering of the club best time with 18:03.99. His time gave him fourth overall in his age group.

He was then the first of the club’s swimmers in the second session of the day, competing in the 200m free and clocking 2:10.39 (PB) to win his heat comfortably.

Pemberton finished in 2:19.99 for 14th in her 200m free (PB) and then it was back to the sprints.

In the 50 fly, Zac Patel, Mason Brand and Jamie Hoyes went sub-30s and set PB times.

Patel and Brand, head to head in the same heat, posted 29.29 and 29.47 respectively with Patel taking second in the heat.

Hoyes then smashed his way to heat victory with another club record of 27.71s. Also in the 50m fly, Ellen Northwood just missed making it a hat-trick of fly finals when she finished 11th in her 50m race in yet another PB of 32.06.

In the finals themselves, Chennells improved yet again in his 200m free to record 2:09.82 and finish seventh, while Hoyes clocked 28.21 for eighth place.

The 11 swimmers had done the club proud, making 11 finals and setting 12 club records from their 31 races, picking up 12 top-eight places including Hurst’s gold and silver medals.

Meanwhile, in the Newmarket Masters meet, 54-year-old Mark Strakosch flew the club’s flag in the 400m free, 100m breast, 100m and 200m free, and 100 back.

Mark managed to set PB times in the 400m free and 100m back, being just outside his best times in the others as he builds towards the European Masters meet at the Olympic pool in London, later in the month.

In the 400m free he improved 2.33s, taking gold. He followed this with gold in both the breast (1:33.88) and 100m free (1:07.95), bronze in the 200m free (2:22.94) and silver in the back (1:19.99).