The latest running of the Yorkshire winter championships has recently concluded after two weekends of furious activity in the water firstly at John Charles for the youngsters and then at Ponds Forge for the teenagers.
In alphabetical order by first name, the swimmers who competed were: Abigail Parkinson, Aerin Catt, Alex Chesters, Alex Williams, Alexandra Heard, Ava Williams, Ben Digby, Charlotte Holmes, Chloe Foster, Daniel Colling, Ellie Walker, Eloise Eastman, Emily Ball, Ethan Baylin, Gemma Parkinson, Hannah Sharpe, Imogen Holbrook, India Bryant Chesters, Jake Lee, James Ball, Joshua Moss, Libby Walker, Maxwell De’Ath, Rachael McHenery, Tabitha Browning and Tom Carswell.
There has been some serious “grade inflation” at Tad since last year so to avoid crashing the website with an overly long article, only top ten placings, near misses, county champs debutants and particularly notable deeds are mentioned individually. As always, apologies to anyone who gets missed out – everything is checked manually and it’s easy to overlook something.
Saturday morning in the youngsters’ event was something of a Bryant/Chesters takeover, with India and Alex both securing top ten placings in the 100 breaststroke (and commemorative hats) whilst Vicki was making her debut as team manager and also manning the Twitter feed, which itself was a debutant championship level. In the afternoon session, Eloise Eastman made her county debut in the 50 breast and bagged a solid mid-pack position.
Sunday saw Dave Atkinson in judging action and he was soon into his stride, DQing swimmers at a rate that made his usual stage name of “The Grim Reaper” look somewhat conservative. Despite Dave’s efforts, the remaining competition was still fierce, though. In the morning session Alex nearly bagged another hat, with 11th place in the 200 IM whilst Ava Williams left nothing to chance in respect of headgear with 6th place in the 50 fly. Alex then rounded things off with a further hat for 10th place in the 50 breast.
Saturday morning in the older age group event did not start particularly promisingly. First of all, news circulated that there were no commemorative hats on offer for top ten placings. Then the timing system started misbehaving rather alarmingly to the extent that the first event of the day took nearly an hour to complete. From a Tad perspective the wait was worthwhile, as Abby Parkinson claimed the gold medal in this event, the 50 free. Ellie Walker then just missed a “not hat” with 11th place in the 100 back before Abby and Alex Williams claimed their virtual hats in the 50 back with 10th and 8th places respectively.
On Saturday afternoon, Abby was again out of the traps quickly with a silver in the 50 breast. Ethan Baylin then claimed 7th in the same event. Ellie and Alex Heard were alongside each other in the 200 IM and engaged in two and a half minutes of aquatic GBH as they duelled stroke for stroke pretty much the whole way, at the end of which Ellie was 10th and Alex 12th. This looked pretty painful, it must be said!
Ellie was soon back for the 50 free, bagging 4th place and the girls’ club record which Abby had claimed a mere 6 hours earlier. Alex H had another near miss with 11th place in this event before Tom Carswell launched his podium assault by claiming bronze, also in the 50 free.
I was on judging duty for this session and it’s events like the older lads’ 50 free that make it all worthwhile. Not only do you get to see the action close up (having risked being deafened by the sound of the ritual “slap off” and narrowly avoided being bounced or kicked into the pool by the extravagant warmups) but you get a free shower as well when the inevitable blanket finish in the final heat sets off a tsunami. If anyone else fancies joining the ranks of the Tadcaster Timelords then please let the Committee know. It’s not all glamorous DQ work though – I didn’t manage one in any of my sessions!
On the Sunday morning, for the third session in a row, Tad “medalled” in the first event, with Tom claiming silver in the 50 back. Alex H and Ellie also claimed 6th and 8th in this event. In the 50 fly, Ben Digby made his county debut, with a solid mid-pack position. Later in the session, Imogen Holbrook also made her county debut in the 50 fly and between these two debuts, it’s fair to say that we hit “Peak Tad” for the weekend.
Taking a deep breath we had: Alex W 11th in the 50 fly, Abby 6th in the 50 fly, Tom bronze in the 100 free, Ellie 7th (and first Tad girl “sub 60”) in the 100 free, Ethan 10th in the 100 breast and Abby 4th in the same event (0.01s off the bronze) before Tom completed his set of medals in the session with a great “come from behind” effort to take gold in the 50 fly. Alex H then rounded things off with 4th place in the 50 fly.
Sunday afternoons at double day galas can often be a bit flat, but this session did not fall into that category. Alex H claimed 6th place in the 50 breast, the event in which Hannah Sharpe made her county debut. Tom then claimed 7th place in the 100 fly before both Maxwell De’Ath and Alex W came tantalisingly close to sub 60s efforts in the 100 free. Abby rounded things off for the weekend with a further “nearly but not quite sub 60” effort in her 100 free which earnt her the silver medal.
Thanks as always go to the coaches (Jane in Leeds; Danny in Sheffield) and the team managers (Vicki Bryant, Mark Williams, Ruth McHenery, Eleanor Carswell, Tracey Holbrook and Charlie Heard).