Berkhamsted SC earned an excellent fourth place after an electrifying two hours in the National Arena League Second Round at Becontree Heath Leisure Centre pool on Saturday.
This was a place higher than the first round and gives them a lot of hope and promise for the final round in December.
Initially running fifth for the first tranche of races, the key run of events came from event 31 out of the 50 when Amy Pemberton, fresh from her exploits at Winter Regionals, led all the way in her front crawl, just failing to dip inside the magical 60 seconds for the second time, posting 1:00.05 for victory by 0.45 seconds from the Leander swimmer.
James Chennells then followed in the next race to make it a clean sweep of the 14/15 years 100 Freestyle, taking his race by the scruff of the neck and winning by two clear seconds in 55.68.
After the two wins, another 15 year old, Abbie Hurst cleaned up second place in the Open 100m Breast and Ella Nijkamp also took second in the 10/11 Free with 31.72 for her own pb and Club record, well insid the County Qualifying time for January.
Just 10 minutes later, Hurst was an easy winner of her age group breaststroke after James Corner had picked up another second for the club with 1:02.12 for the 100 Free, pipped only at the touch by the winner.
Earlier, Chennells and Pemberton, both aged just 15, had competed in the Open 200 IMs, as the first two events of the meet with Chennells just shading his pb in 2:18.47 and Pemberton just a second outside her own in 2:35.32, for a brace of fifth places against the senior swimmers.
They had been followed by Nijkamp taking her first club record of the night with a win in the 10/11 years 50 Backstroke (35.45) by over 1.5 seconds, a huge margin in the two length race.
Other top three individual placings came from: Louis Armitage (12/13 years 100 Breast – third), 14 year old Ish Rahim (14/15 years 100 Fly – second), Tom Strakosch, with a powerful second 50 claiming third in the Open 100 Back (1:04.17), Tamsin Moren, who keeps improving week by week (10/11 years 50 Breast –2nd, 42.44; pb) & Euan Donald (12/13 years 100 Fly – 1:14.09, third; pb).
Although not top three placings there were pbs for Yazii Brand, coming back to form (Open 100 Back), Harry Thorne (14/15 years 100 Breast) & Lydia Wisely whose fourth in the 10/11 years 50 Fly; 40.50, won her the club’s female swimmer of the night award alongside Pemberton whose attitude was superb all night in a busy and stressful night for her.
The first club victory on the night had come in the third race of the gala, courtesy of the Girls’ 10/11 4 x 50 Free Relay squad. Led off by Moren, Wisely, Abbie Briers & Nijkamp brought the race home in 2:16.75, smashing the club record six seconds.
The squad would also have taken the Medley relay record by a similar margin except for a disqualification caused by an early relay takeover. The future looks bright for the foursome.
The Boys’ 12/13 4 x 50m Medley squad of George Thorne, Armitage, Corner and Donald picked up third in this race and second in the 4 x 50m Free team race as well.
For the 14/15 Boys, Chennells Mason Brand, Harry Thorne & Rahim claimed second in their own 4 x 50m Free relay whilst the Open Boys Medley quartet of Strakosch, Ollie Hurst, Sam Newman and Chris Nel, took the Club Medley team best down to 1:55.35. 13-year-old Issy Soulsby joined Hurst, Ellen Northwood & Pemberton to pinch second on the finish in their 14/15 Medley Relay with 2:10.13.
The meet concluded with two immensely exciting and noisy 6 x 50m Freestyle Cannon relays.For the girls, Brand handed over to Emily Kiernan, Zoe Doyle, Jess Potts, Northwood & Pemberton recording 3:00.76 before there was yet another Club Record for the Men (Nel, Chennells, O. Hurst, Strakosch, Newman & Jordan Northwood) who finished third in 2:35.73.
Special mention should go to Masters swimmer, Zoe Doyle, who was a late call up to the squad, for her debut in the National league, and in her 50m free relay legs swam 31.68 & 31.42, both of which were a second faster than she has ever gone before.
The final members of the squad comprised Tom Holmes-Higgin, Sam Baker, Tommy Maidment, Evie Watson and Abi Hewson who all played their part in an epic team performance.
The gala was followed on Sunday afternoon by the final round of Club Champs for 2016 when over 90 swimmers swam over 400 races between them in a tremendous gala atmosphere and proved, alongside the team performance at the National League, what the club is all about, team work.