Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted clubs dive in to Herts League action

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A flying start to the Herts Major League saw both of Hemel SC’s teams win their respective events, beating teams from across the county.

A total of 31 top-three finishes in 49 races, including 16 first places, saw the Division 1 team emerge victorious from a tough first round draw.

Three of the relay teams won all of their events – the open boys (Greg Baxter, Tom Frewin, Jack Spence and Freddie Woodcock), the open girls (Aimee Abrey, Emily Jelfs, Lois Moore and Grace Rayner) and the U14 boys (Sam Gaines, Max Jelfs, Harrison Mills and Charlie Rayner).

There were individual wins for Abrey, Frewin, Max Jelfs, Moore, Grace Rayner and Spence.

Special mention goes to Charlie Rayner who won three individual events, including the 100m breaststroke against swimmers two years older than himself.

Meanwhile, 35 top-three finishes from 49 races – including an impressive 21 first places – saw the Division 2 team to a comfortable win in their competition.

Three of the relay teams won each of their events – the open boys (Jack Christie, Josh Gaines, Matt and Tom Sherriff), the U14 boys (Jamie Ayres, Ashley Coombs, Ben Davies and Jonny Farrow), and the U14 girls (Izzy Anderton, Billy Grant, Georgia Purkis and Becci Rumble).

The open girls (Bethany Masters, Molly McLoughlin, Paige Wilding and Lauren Windsor) won their medley relay and finished second by an agonising 100th of a second in the free.

There were individual wins for Izzy Anderton, Reuben Balch, Jack Christie, Jonny Farrow, Billie Grant, Bethany Masters, Matt Sherriff, Tom Sherriff, Paige Wilding and Lauren Windsor.

Ashley Coombs and Georgia Purkis won individual events and also swam up an age group, with both competing in five relay races to cover for last minute withdrawals.

Michael Broner, Niall Marsden, Rayne Marsh and Zara Rafiq-Craske also stepped in on the day to cover for last minute illnesses.

> Berkhamsted

Two Berkhamsted SC teams were in action in the first round of the Herts League campaign.

The A team swam at Borehamwood in Division 1, while the B team visited Sportspace in Hemel Hempstead for Division 2.

After a night of ups and downs, the B team finished second and the A team took third on the night.

The A team’s first win of the night went to Louis Armitage, who waltzed away with the U12 50m breaststroke.

Jordan Northwood dropped his 100m freestyle PB to 56.80s to win comfortably and record the only men’s individual club best of the gala.

Earlier there had been PBs for Abi Hewson and Marley Maidment (50m back) and Maddie Kiernan (100m breast). Amy Stoker set a two-second PB in the 100m fly, followed by Ish Rahim lowering his own fly best.

The U14 and U16 boys squads did not win an individual race all night but were unbeaten in all four relays.

Zach Patel, Mason Brand, Rahim and James Chennells set a club record in the medley relay, and the same foursome were nearly a length clear in the freestyle relay in another record time.

Northwood, Ollie Hurst, Tom Lyons and Chris Nel were imperious in winning both their relays, while there were individual victories for Amy Pemberton (U14 100m free) and James Corner (50 free, PB).

Girls’ club bests went to Charlotte Watson (100m free, 100m back and 50m back), Alice Hewson (open 100m back) and Yazii Brand (open 100m fly).

There were also PBs for George Thorne (50m free and 50m fly), James Chennells (50m free and 100m free) and Zach Patel (100m back).

It was then down to the final set of relays to decide the outcome, with Abi Hewson setting a PB in the 50m back when leading out the U12 girls.

James Corner, Maidment, Armitage and Thorne claimed victory for the U12 boys, before Watson, Nel, Abi Hewson, Corner, Pemberton, Brand, Alice Hewson and Harry Ormerod finished third in the final squadron race.

The open girls’ team of Eli MacDonald, Brand, Charly Stevens and Alice Hewson also took the club record in the 4x50 free relay.

Meanwhile, the B team achieved 26 PBs and first time swims out of the 32 individual races, with a staggering 81 per cent of the swimmers going faster than ever before.

There were individual wins from Jamie Hoyes (U16 100m fly) and Tom Weston (U16 100m back), with Hoyes clocking a regional qualifying time.

The pair later combined with Peter Lever, Adam Hawkswood and Ollie Martin for wins in both relays.

Not to be outdone, the U12 boys all swam split PBs and executed lightning fast takeovers to win both the freestyle and medley relays.

The team of Dan Stace, Dan Chennels, Dan Hoyes and Kieran Mallory just pipped the U16 squad to be named BSC Relay Squad of the Night.

Sam Gray set the tone of the meet by going under 60 seconds for the first time (58.56), finishing second.

Other second places quickly followed for Emma Walker (U12 25m breast) in a new club record, Dan Chennels (U1, 25m back) and Peter Lever (U16 100m breast, PB).

Harriett Horwood-Jones and Roisin Clarke then delivered two more seconds with well-executed 100m backstrokes, both setting PBs. Harry Thorne also finished second (U14 100m breast) in a huge PB.

After 12 races the team were in first place, and they continued to smash their times, with notable PB swims from Adam Hawkswood (U16 100m free), Louise Holden (100m breast) and Molly Baker (50m fly).

After 36 events Berko were in third place, before the squads added more points in the final eight races.

Every squad finished in the top three – with finger tip finishes from Tom Weston in the all-conquering U16 boys’ team and Izzy Sansom in the U14 medley – to take second place overall.