Plenty of action for the Hemel Hempstead swimmers as they start the season in style

A team of five Hemel Hempstead SC masters swimmers travelled to Newmarket for the East Region Masters and Senior Swimming Championships
A team of five Hemel Hempstead SC masters swimmers travelled to Newmarket for the East Region Masters and Senior Swimming Championships

Hemel Hempstead Swimming Club celebrated their centenary year by making their debut in the top flight Premier Division of the Arena League London Division.

The league is made up of 55 clubs from in and around London, and the Hemel team travelled to Basildon in Essex to compete with seven other clubs – some of which boasted Olympians and international swimmers in their squads.

A team of five Hemel Hempstead SC masters swimmers travelled to Newmarket for the East Region Masters and Senior Swimming Championships

A team of five Hemel Hempstead SC masters swimmers travelled to Newmarket for the East Region Masters and Senior Swimming Championships

It was a tough battle all night, with Hemel eventually finishing in eighth place, narrowly missing out on seventh.

The swimmers competed well, producing 43 personal bests on the night, with many of them beating times they had produced only a week before at a gala in Aylesbury.

The highest placed swimmer on the night was 10-year-old Eleanor Bevan who finished third - knocking three seconds off her 50m breaststroke PB.

Joshua Gaines was fourth in the 100m backstroke, as was Alex Hatt in her favoured 100m breaststroke event.

A team of five Hemel Hempstead SC masters swimmers travelled to Newmarket for the East Region Masters and Senior Swimming Championships

A team of five Hemel Hempstead SC masters swimmers travelled to Newmarket for the East Region Masters and Senior Swimming Championships

Charles Rayner was fourth in the 100m breaststroke, taking four seconds off his PB, and he was fifth in the 100m butterfly in another PB time.

The ladies’ open medley relay team produced a club best time while the 6x50m freestyle men’s relay squad gave an exciting finish to the gala with a fifth-placed finish.

Swimmers of the Gala were Bevan, Aimee Abrey , Rayner and Freddie Woodcock.

HHSC head coach Alan Doyle said: “We faced some extremely tough competition but I was really impressed with our swimmers’ attitude and commitment.

“They competed for every place and never stopped cheering for their teammates all night long.”

Elsewhere, a small team of five masters swimmers travelled to Newmarket for the East Region Masters and Senior Swimming Championships.

They managed to bring home a stunning 18 medals and break four East Region Masters records.

The Championships brings swimmers together from Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk plus this year saw a team of swimmers travel from Spain especially for the event.

Annette Thatcher, 61, led the way with a stunning five gold medals from her individual swims as well as a relay gold and bronze and a number of east region records.

The evergreen Dave Pirrie, 56, was the lone male swimmer but he was unbeaten all day – bringing home four gold medals in the 50m butterfly, 50m freestyle and the 50m and 100m breastroke.

The younger ladies’ contingent was led by improving Rachel Barber, 25, who won gold medals in the 100m individual medley, 50m backstroke, 100m freestyle and a silver in the 50m freestyle.

Hemel had two senior swimmers in action at the championships for the first time – club captain Kira Doyle won silver medals in the 50m freestyle and 100m breastroke as well as a bronze in the 100m freestyle plus a couple of other top four finishes.

Melissa Brandon travelled from Nottingham and produced a top-four finish in the 50m backstroke as well as two top-six finishes.

The ladies’ team of Annette, Rachel, Kira and Melissa capped off a busy day with gold in the 120+ combined ages freestyle relay and silver in the medley relay.

Thanks also go to Mark Horrod who made the journey to Newmarket to officiate.

Meanwhile, a team of 27 Hemel swimmers started their season off in style in Aylesbury at the Maxwell Autumn Gala – bringing home 27 medals and swimming 77 PB times.

Leading the way with six medals was Aimee Abrey, 15, who won gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke and 200m freestyle. She also bagged silvers in the 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle, as well as setting some early season PBs.

Charles Rayner, 12, made a clean sweep of gold medals by winning the 50m butterfly and 200m breaststroke and demonstrating his all round ability by taking first place in the 200m individual medley.

Other multiple medal winners included Ashley Coombs, 12, who took silver in the tough 400m Individual IM event as well as bronze medals in the 400m freestyle and 200m IM.

Jacob Hutchings, 15, took silver in the 400m freestyle and bronze medals in the 100m butterfly and the 200m IM.

Young Reuben Balch, 9, made his open gala debut in style taking home a full set of medals with gold in the 50m breaststroke, silver in the 50m butterfly and bronze in the 100m IM.

Kyle Holmes, 14, one of the club’s breaststroke specialists took silvers in the 50m and 200m breaststroke with a bronze in the 100m IM.

Eleanor Bevan, 11, took gold in the 100m breaststroke and silver in the 200m event, while 15-year-old Paige Wilding took home a brace of silver medals in the 100m breaststroke and 200m backstroke

Amber Stratford, 10, won bronze in the 200m backstroke event and Grace Rayner won gold in her favoured breaststroke event in the 200m.

There were PBs on the day from Millie Anderton, Isabelle Anderton, Shona McKenna, Charlotte Hingston, Luke Pestaille, Leanne Abrey, Lois Emery, Billie Grant, Emily Hollan, Isabella Sherwani-Keeling, Shaminah Sherwani-Keeling, Keelin McKenna, Nell Baughan, Alice Fender and Nathan Lodge

Many of these swimmers had finishes close to the medal positions.