Berkhamsted Swimming Club gave their all at the National Inter County Meet and GB National Masters Short Course Championships.
Head Coach Geoff Wood took the Herts County Squad to Sheffield as one of the two coaches alongside Mary Wright from Hoddesdon. The 50m pool is split in half enabling two galas (one for each of the two divisions with 20 teams in each) to run simultaneously which heightens the atmosphere to fever pitch.
Five BSC athletes were also with the team and although the county team was relegated, none of the members could have swum any harder and the club’s own quintet of Abbie Hurst, Amy Pemberton, Issy Soulsby, James Corner and James Chennells all played their part.
James Chennells was only called up on the Saturday morning but made the practice session at St Albans Boys School pool and was quickly a part of the team.
After an arduous coach journey to Sheffield and a later night evening meal, a good night’s sleep was followed by the terrific atmosphere that characterises the National Inter County meet with the 50m pool being divided in two and 2 x 25m pools hosting events at the same time.
James Chennells was first up in the 100m Fly and shaved nearly two seconds from his pb to hit 1:03.69 (split 29.05) and he was followed by James Corner in the 100 Free who also lopped off over a second from his Hemel best just 7 days previously, to clock 1:01.02 (split 29.45).
Next up was a slightly below par Abbie who clocked a still more than respectable 1:16.48 for the 100 Breast and then Issy burned up the pool with her 100m Back time of 1:10.82 (split 34.33) before Amy was the club’s final individual swimmer and was just unable to crack the magic 60 seconds, clocking an agonisingly close 1:00.02 for a club best ever performance.
A measure of their speed was that all five individual swims were well inside the Regional QT for 2017 with both the James and Issy making the RQT for the first time this year in their respective events. Amy is now ranked second in the East Region on the 100 Free for her Age.
In the relays:
Issy led off the Medley with 33.35 (pb) whilst James Corner anchored the Medley with 27.83 and going second in the final squadron, posted a split of 27.78, both of them faster than his individual pb.
James Chennells was the anchor on his age group medley relay and posted 24.80 (more than a second quicker than his pb), Amy went 27.37 anchoring her medley squad home and stepped straight back up to go 27.81 on her leg of the squadron. Abbie’s Breast leg in the medley relay clocked 35.50.
It was a super weekend and, hopefully, others from BSC will now believe they can step up and perform at this National Stage.
Meanwhile, Mark Strakosch flew the flag for the Club’s Masters swimmers at the British Masters Short Course Nationals, also in Sheffield and, as usual, did so with aplomb.
Once again the 50m pool is split in two, one side for the women and one for the men.
Mark’s signature event, the 1500m was first on the cards. Already the Regional record holder in the 50/54 age group, Mark looked to set a new best for the next Age Group up, the 55/59 bracket and did not disappoint. Although slightly down throughout the race on his pb he was comfortably some 30 plus seconds inside the old record on his way to the silver medal with 19:35.57 and his own second best ever time.
Mark followed this up with bronze in an unusual event for him, the 200 Back, posting 2:53.77 and clocked, probably his best swim of the weekend in the final event of the first day, the 100m Freestyle. His final time of 1:06.66 was a 0.2 second improvement on his time from 2014, proving it is never too late to keep improving if you have the desire.
In a heavy schedule he also went 1:20.46 for his 100m Back, 2:50.87 for his 200 IM (just (0.2 outside his pb again) and a second pb of the meet in the 50 Breast, hitting the pads in 41.58 almost three quarters of a second faster than two years ago.
His meet finished with good swims in the 200 Breast (3:15.57) and finally a bronze in the 800m free with 10:18.45.
Also swimming were ex-BSC swimmers Jo Holder and Bel McGinley who both swam lifetime pbs in a couple of events.
Next weekend see the Regional Winter Championships at Luton and the club has 10 swimmers in 42 races across the three days which is its biggest ever representation as they continue to get stronger as a team.