National Inter-Counties 2017

Inter counties 2017 The Hertfordshire ASA National Inter County team travelled to Sheffield on Saturday 7th October for the Swim England County Team Championships 2017 after a team training session at Westminster Lodge. The team were in good voice on the three-hour journey up, entertaining the adults with their enthusiastic if sometimes out of time and tune singing!

On Sunday the team made their way to Ponds Forge for the competition. Team Captains Laura Copping and James Woodward had been entrusted with the obligatory face paint, and a blue and white stripe, dot and handprint extravaganza ensued in the topmost corner of the stands as the team readied themselves for action with a healthy dose of fun.

Having been relegated to Division 2 in 2016 they had their sights set on promotion back to the top division, and their campaign began well with 8 PBs in the first 13 races. Leading the way was Ela Norton, who secured the team’s first win and a PB of over 2s in the Girls 12/13 100m breaststroke, swiftly followed by the largest PB of the day at over 4s from Thomas Ogden in the boys equivalent to claim 8th. PBs in the first run also went to James Woodward (Boys 16/17 100m freestyle), Reese Housden (Boys 14/15 100m butterfly), Daniel Chada (Boys 16/17 100m backstroke), Michael Klimaszewski (Boys 12/13 100m freestyle) and Bryn Couser (Boys 14/15 100m breaststroke). Shannon Stott closed out the first run of individuals with a PB of just under a second in the Girls 16/17 100m butterfly.

The first run of relays proved a bit of a stumbling block with two DQ’s, but the team had a chat in the break and resolved to dig in and try and close the gap back to the four promotion spots in the second half. There were PBs for Thomas Ogden (Boys 12/13 100m backstroke), David Shipman (Boys 16/17 100m breaststroke), Valeria Giron (Girls 12/13 100m butterfly) and Tobi Laguda (Boys 14/15 100m backstroke) in this run, with almost all other swims less than a second off PB pace. Michael Klimaszewski also claimed the team’s second win of the day with a dominant 2s win over the field.

The 16/17 Girls medley relay team of Josie Pretious-White, Laura Copping, Shannon Stott and Alice Fender claimed the highest finish of the medley relay teams, securing 4th in a very tight heat to kick off the second run of relays. The following two races both came in in 8th after some great swimming by the teams.

There was discussion in the stands as to whether sticking to the age old girl-boy, youngest to oldest strategy was going to work out in the final 6 x 50m freestyle squadron, especially when Jessica Keogh set off against 9 significantly larger boys! However, the six swimmers put their hearts on the line for the team and drew back into the race as the final few swimmers hit the water. James Woodward hit the water last and brought the team home in 3rd position in the race.

Overall the team finished 7th in Division 2, not quite where they wanted to be but a really strong showing from the swimmers. Top Boy was awarded to Michael Klimaszewski for consistently strong swimming across all four races including a 100m freestyle PB and a win in the 100m butterfly. Top Girl was awarded to Jessica Woodward who raced the final two relays back to back with a fierce determination and with very fast results on the split times.

The team spirit over the weekend was really strong. From the non-stop singing both ways on the coach to the endless chatter around the hotel and on poolside the swimmers set aside their different clubs and gelled as part of the Hertfordshire team. Everyone got involved and no one was left on the sidelines.

Thank you to Tina Carroll and Beata Klimaszewska for their Team Manager work; organising water, food, rooms, registers, swimmers for their races…, the list was endless and everything was done with a smile. Thank you to Louise Hughes and Neil Cadenhead for officiating and ensuring Herts didn’t get into trouble for not providing officials. Thank you to Ian Bays for accompanying the team in his capacity as President, and undertaking the unenviable task of sitting on poolside in his President regalia all day! Thank you to Kate Burchell for all the behind the scenes work calling everyone up, and reacting calmly when we had last minute panics over the team. Thank you to Bryan Thompson and Ian Mackenzie for organising the training, coach and hotel logistics so the team was a team for the whole weekend. Finally, thank you to all the swimmers who took part in the event, raced so well and made it such a fun weekend for all involved. We’re sure the team will make it back to Division 1 in the very near future.

Amy & Jack