Following on from the Yorkshire winter championships, the North East Region equivalent has just concluded with the youngsters (11-13) in action in Sunderland at the end of October with the older swimmers doing their stuff in Sheffield a week later.
There was a small Tad contingent for the first weekend (Abby Parkinson, Ava Williams, Ethan Baylin and India Bryant Chesters). Jane was on coaching duty with Vicki Chesters and Mark Williams doing the honours on the team manager front whilst Vicki again manned the Twitter feed. Thanks guys!
Again, there were no finals or top ten hats to aim for, but aiming for PBs and to look good on the livestream was motivation enough. And given the small number of competitors, everyone gets a mention!
There was an unusual “first” in the commentary box in the first girls’ event: The TV company doing the livestream had hired the , to do the honours on the microphone, and he became the first person to have commentated on Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky and India Bryant Chesters (not in the same session, obviously!) as India kicked things off for Tad in the 100 breast. She bagged 11th place for 11 yo, with Abby securing the silver medal for 13 yo with a PB. India then swam a PB to secure 13th place in the 200 free before Abby closed the session with 6th and a PB in the 50 back.
Saturday afternoon saw Ava and Ethan join in the fun, though there was a long wait for any Tad action, with all our swimmers only doing their stuff in the final half hour of the session. First out was India in the 100 medley, securing 9th place. Next up was Abby, who converted her position as fastest entrant to a gold medal with a big PB. If India and Abby felt the urge to celebrate their medley efforts they would have been disappointed as they were straight into marshalling for the 50 breast, joined by Ava and Ethan. Ethan claimed 8th place for 13 yo with a PB, with India and Ava claiming 13th and 17th places respectively for 11 yo, the former with a PB. Abby then rounded off the day with a nerve-jangling effort, claiming the gold by just a tenth of a second.
There always seems to be some sort of food theme on a trip to Sunderland, and this time was no different, with the youngsters amusing themselves in the evening with a round or two of the “Dorito Roulette Challenge”. It’s fair to say that they are better at swimming than eating very spicy crisps! On the subject of food, it must be noted that the buffet lunches provided for officials in Sunderland are really very good indeed which might be more of a temptation to start training as an official than the promise of a being soaked with spray at the end of 50m freestyle races.
Sunday morning was another busy session from a Tad perspective: Ethan notched a PB for 14th place in the 100 breast, India bagged two PBs for 12th and 13th places in the 200 breast and 100 free with Abby claiming 4th place in the 100 free and a PB for 7th place in the 50 fly. Highlight of the session was a great PB and 6th place for Ava in the 50 fly. She may not have won a hat but she did have the consolation of beating her Dad’s PB for this event.
Not a bad weekend in the water for Tad with 4 medals, 8 other top ten placings and 15 PBs out of 24. There was a slightly bigger contingent for the second weekend. Daniel Colling was making his NER debut, with Alex Heard, Alex Williams, Ellie Walker, Emily Ball, Gemma Parkinson and Tom Carswell in action too. Abby and Ethan had also qualified for the older age group competition, an impressive achievement for Ethan in particular as the qualifying times are for 15 and under, and there are some very large 14 and 15 year old lads in the swimming world.
At the older age group competition there are finals at which to aim, though with an array of senior and junior internationals on the start lists, berths therein were not going to be easily come by.
First out on Saturday was Tom, who despite being a bit off his PB was second reserve for the final. Ellie, still suffering from a recent bout of illness put in a brave effort in the 200 free before Ethan uncorked a big PB in the 50 breast. Abby and Emily then both recorded long course PBs in the 100 breast. Ellie and Alex H did their stuff in the 50 back and then joined Gemma and Abby in the 50 free. When the froth had settled, Ellie and Abby had claimed places in the final, the latter with a PB.
By now the “morning” session had been going for around three hours but there was still a mid-session break and three heats of the 800 free to go before Alex W and Daniel got to do their stuff in 50 fly along with Tom. Alex bagged a PB, closing in on the 30 second barrier, with Daniel recording a long course PB. Tom rounded off the morning for Tad by “easily” claiming a place in the final.
The afternoon session was mercifully short, with no finals for the 800 free or the relays and just a single final for the other events. First out for Tad were Ellie and Abby for the 50 free. The winner was in a different class to everyone else (comfortably under 27s) but there was a serious scrap for 2nd to 10th place, with these places covered by around half a second. Abby claimed 5th place overall (sub 28s for the first time) with Ellie in 9th. Abby also won the silver medal in the junior (15 and under) category making use of having much longer arms than the girl alongside who claimed the bronze, touching just 0.03s ahead.
Tom rounded off the session by adding to the medal-haul with a PB to claim bronze in the 50 fly. It’s fair to say that Tom and Abby reacted in rather different styles to their achievements. Tom’s celebrations were extravagant in the extreme, going as far as cracking a half smile towards Eleanor in the gallery, whilst Abby looked barely affected, calmly fizzing around like a dodgy Chinese firework for the next hour or so!
The order of events was the same on Sunday as on the Saturday, so Ellie and Alex H kicked things off in the 100 free before Emily and Abby joined Alex in the 50 breast, with Alex and Emily recording long course PBs. Tom had a busy session, claiming a place in the final for the 100 fly, 50 back and 50 free, the latter with a PB. In amongst all this, Ellie did the 100 back and Alex W the 50 back, with Alex bagging a sizeable long course PB. Abby, Ellie and Alex concluded the morning session for Tad in the 50 fly with Alex and Abby both bagging PBs. Alex was only a tenth or so off a place in the final too.
Tom was left to fly the flag on his own for Tad in the afternoon claiming 8th in the 100 fly before rounding things off with a great silver in the 50 free to bring Tad’s NER medal tally to 7 in total across all age groups. With Bob Ballard doing the commentary, there were no pronunciation issues on the livestream, but if the tannoy man was to be believed, we had a couple of guest swimmers in the Saturday finals with “Abigail Parker” and “Thomas Craswell” claiming medals!
Thanks, as always, are due to the Danny on the coaching front, Charlie and Eleanor for team managering (if such a verb exists) and Vicki for remote Twittering.