Yorkshire Champs February 2019

The latest round of the Yorkshire Championships concluded some months ago after 3 weekends of action. After a hiatus of a year, regular readers had probably hoped that lengthy championship reports had been canned as an act of mercy. No such luck I’m afraid. The hiatus was caused by technology issues which are now resolved, and championship reports are now back, bigger (though not necessary better) than ever! The increased size of the report is for the very best of reasons: more qualifiers and more notable achievements than previously.

A measure of the progress made by the squad over the last year is that the swimmers qualified for approximately 40% more individual races than last year, including doubling the number of qualifications for distances of 100m and longer. 31 swimmers entered for individual events, including debutants Lucy, Charlotte M, Sophie and Jess.

The swimmers had varying objectives from the Champs, with some aiming for medals and finals, others for regional qualifying times and others just for PBs. We’ve tried to mention every noteworthy performance, though inadvertent omissions are hard to avoid so please don’t be offended if you’ve not been mentioned.

The action kicked off with two weekends in Leeds over the longer distances, with Tad keen to further its credentials as “Not just a sprint club”. Ellie had the 100 free title to defend and Tom would have been defending his 100 fly title but for injury.

Day 1 kicked off with some near misses in the 100 back, with Sophia and Abby being reserve finalists. Ellie and Alex did the deed though and qualified for their final in this event, in which Ellie bagged the bronze medal. Gemma may have missed the final, but she was there in spirit as Ellie was wearing Gemma’s hat and spare race suit due to a few untimely rips and tears to her own kit!

Ellie also qualified for the 400 free final but withdrew to save herself for future challenges and to preserve the finish on Gemma’s spare suit for a bit longer. Indi, Alex, Abby and Ellie all took on the 200IM, with the latter two both progressing to their finals, with PBs for Abby in both heat and final in the process.

Ethan got the lads underway with a PB in the 200IM before Jimmy H got to mount the top step of the virtual podium (time constraints preclude actual medal presentations on a real podium, sadly) with a fantastic win in the 200 breaststroke. Jimmy and Ethan both qualified for their final in the 100 breast, with Jimmy adding another medal – bronze this time – in the final and Ethan finishing just out of the medals though with the consolation of a PB. Maxwell completed the action for the lads for the day with a solid reserve finalist place in the 400 free, despite suffering from a chest infection.

Day 2 started with PBs for Sophia and Indi in the 100 fly heats, with the former progressing to the final. Ellie then proved she is actually mortal by not progressing to the final in the 100 fly or the 100 breast. Sophia and Indi did their stuff in the 100 free, with Sophia again making the final. It was business as usual for Ellie in the 400IM where she qualified easily for the final, in which she finished 5th.

For the lads, Jacob bagged a top ten finish in the 200 free before taking the silver in the 200 back. Jacob was on his own for the lads this day as sadly Ethan, Maxwell and Alex W were all ill or injured.

There was a familiar start to Day 3, with Sophia out first to claim another top ten place, this time in the 200 free. Indi, Ellie and Abbie were also in action here, with Ellie qualifying 3rd and Abby 5th for their finals. Ellie came home 6th in her final, with Abby bagging a second PB on the day for 5th place after having been last by some distance at the halfway point. In the 200 breast, Jess marked her Champs debut with a PB, with Indi also bagging a PB in this event.

For the lads, Jacob and Jimmy H took on the 100 fly, with Jacob progressing to the final where he finished 7th.

For once, Sophia was not first out on a busy Day 4, with this honour falling to Tabby in the 100 free, in which she was joined by Gemma, Abby and Ellie. Abby and Ellie both qualified for the final, albeit with Ellie’s “afterburners” looking like they could do with a bit of maintenance, as she was only 5th fastest qualifier. Abby bagged the bronze with a PB after a stroke-by-stroke battle up the last length with the silver medallist.

In Ellie’s final it was soon obvious that her afterburners were once again in full working order as she took a body length lead by the turn and still had half an arm length of advantage by the finish to claim her second gold in a row in this event. Ellie was back in her own suit by this stage, but still confused the officials by racing in Gemma’s named hat.

Ellie also qualified third fastest for the 200 back final, but didn’t race this, to save herself for the 100 free. Also in the 200 back, Sophia ran out of steam somewhat, ending her run of top ten placings.

For the lads, Jacob eased into the final of the 100 back, qualifying fastest, which he converted to a gold medal in the final. It was very close until around 15 to go when Jacob’s rival started looking over at him. Jacob sensibly just “kept his head down” and charged for the wall. Jacob added a 4th place in the 200IM, joined by Jimmy H in bagging top ten placings. Ethan also bagged a couple of PBs in the 200 breast heat and final, claiming 5th overall.

The “scores on the doors” at this stage were 3 golds (Jimmy H, Jacob and Ellie); 1 silver (Jacob); 3 bronzes (Ellie, Jimmy H and Abby) and 14 other finals/top ten placings – definitely not just a sprint club!

There was a veritable “cast of thousands” at Sheffield for Sprints Day, with the queue to get in snaking round Reception, down the stairs and into the carpark not long after 730am! It was good that the Tad contingent was sizeable in number, as getting a place on the blocks in warmup to practice starts was almost an event in its own right without considerable “backup” from team mates.

The question vexing the swim world at this stage was “Whose hat will Ellie be wearing today?” Gemma had reclaimed her hat, so Ellie borrowed Indi’s instead, which she managed to destroy almost immediately. In whose hat she actually raced remains something of a mystery.

In the morning session, Sophia resumed her usual role as the “advance guard”, kicking off the freestyle with a PB. Sophie marked her Champs debut with a PB, with Indi getting in on the act too with a first long course sub-30 second clocking.

In the backstroke, Tabby, Libby, Lucy and Gemma were in action. Lucy was close to her PB on debut, despite having problems with the start ledge, something also experienced by Gemma shortly afterwards. Both bounced back from this “equipment failure” with PBs later in the day. Abby, Ellie and Alex qualified safely for their finals in this event.

Jess, Eloise and Indi all notched big PBs in the breaststroke. In the fly, Aeisha, Emily, Lucy, Imogen and Chloe notched PBs  with Holly just off her PB. Abby, Clemmie (with a PB), Alex and Ellie qualified safely for their finals in this event.

For the lads, Jacob was out first in the backstroke, qualifying fastest for the final. In the breaststroke, Ethan qualified third fastest for the final. Maxwell, Dan, Jake, Ben and Alex W also did their stuff here, with Jake, Maxwell and Dan recording PBs. Jimmy H and Jacob contested the fly, with Jacob progressing to the final. The action in the free was predictably fast furious, with PBs for Dan, Ethan, Max and Jake, a near miss for Alex W and safe progression to the final for Tom. Although he hadn’t made the final, Dan claimed the all-important sibling bragging rights by beating Ben!

The finals started well, with another gold for Jacob in the backstroke. Also in the backstroke, Abby improved her 7th place qualification to 5th place overall, after which Ellie was just edged into 4th with Alex in 8th in their final. Next up was Ethan, who finally got his mitts on a Champs medal with a fab bronze and a PB in the breaststroke. Jacob concluded his work for the morning with 9th place in the fly. Also in the fly, Abby clocked her first long course sub-30 effort in claiming the bronze. Clemmie couldn’t quite match her PB from the heats in finishing 6th in her final. Alex and Ellie then claimed 4th and 7th, the latter with a PB. Ethan nearly added a bronze in the free, touched out by a tenth of a second before Tom rounded off the morning in claiming 7th with his outboard motor struggling to find top gear after a lengthy spell out injured.

There are no prizes for guessing who kicked off the afternoon session – Sophia of course – this time in the backstroke, in which she notched a PB. There were a couple of near misses on the PB front for Libby and Charlotte H in the breaststroke, before Ellie and Chloe did notch PBs, the latter with her first NER qualifying time. Alex joined Ellie in the final for this event. Charlotte M marked her Champs debut with a big PB in the fly, with Indi also bagging a PB here.

There was some serious action in the free, with Tabby uncorking a big PB to qualify for her final, a feat repeated by Gemma shortly afterwards. Imogen added her 2nd PB of the day, just shy of the 30 second barrier. Abby, Clemmie and Ellie also qualified for the final in the last heat, saving – we all hoped – a bit extra for the final itself.

For the lads, Jimmy H qualified for the breaststroke final, a feat repeated by Jacob. In the fly, there was a sizeable turnout, with James joining Ethan, Alex, Maxwell and Tom in action. Ethan hit the 30 second barrier bang on for a sizeable PB, a feat repeated by Alex in qualifying for the final. Maxwell also bagged a PB, though didn’t progress. Tom didn’t bag a PB, but had certainly found at least 5th gear on his outboard motor as he qualified fastest for the final. In the free, Jacob claimed another place in a final. In the backstroke, James, Alex and Tom were again in action, with another episode of “Colling vs Colling” thrown in as well. Dan again claimed sibling honours over Ben with Alex notching a PB in claiming another place in the final. Tom rounded off the action in the heats by qualifying 3rd fastest for the final.

The finals again started well Jimmy H claiming the bronze in the breaststroke, and Jacob finishing 7th in this event. Also in breaststroke, Alex and Ellie claimed 5th and 8th. In the fly, Alex notched another PB in his final, before Tom found top gear in being a smidge off his PB in claiming silver in this event, an impressive effort given recent injury woes. Jacob claimed 7th in the free, before things went  slightly mad in the girls’ 50 free. There were 4 finals in all with Tad representation in each of them, involving 5 swimmers. There was a flurry of action crammed into around 5 minutes, which kicked off with Tabby finishing 6th. Abby and Ellie both found a bit extra to claim silvers, sandwiching a gold for Clemmie who found a lot extra, surprising the fastest qualifiers from lane 7. The day was rounded off with a 9th place for Alex and 4th for Tom in the backstroke.

The scores on the doors for the day were 2 golds (Jacob and Clemmie); 3 silvers (Ellie, Tom and Abby); 3 bronzes (Ethan, Jimmy H and Abby) and 17 other places in finals. So whilst efforts in Leeds proved Tad isn’t just a sprint club, it is still pretty fast in short, straight lines!

The final day of the Champs was Teams Day, where speed in short, straight lines was again the order of the day in the 4*50 free and medley relays. Teams Day is always good as the sessions are short, with a lot of furious action to support. This year was even better as the first session of the day was dedicated to the individual distance freestyle events, with the relays starting at a most civilised 11am.

In action in the water, in no particular order, we had Dan, Ben, Tom, Jake, Alex H, Clemmie, Imogen, Ellie, Bethany, Emily, Jess, Georgina, Alex W, Maxwell, Tiago, Ethan, Lucy, Charlotte H, Hannah, Sophia, Giorgia, Charlotte M, Latisha, Chloe, Amy, Holly, Fintan, Michael, Isaac, Josh, Beth, Jodie, Nina, Olivia, Libby, Indi, Aiesha and Tabby. But before anyone got their toes wet, we had Deborah Welch in judging action, getting signed off for the all-important relay takeovers.

First out in the morning were two 11/12 girls teams in the free. One of the quartets (Giorgia, Sophia, Charlotte and Latisha) surprised a few clubs and probably themselves by qualifying comfortably for the final in which they claimed a fine 4th place, helped by a swift lead-off from Giorgia which would have challenged for an individual medal the day before in terms of time.

The open age lads (Ben, Dan, Jake and Tom) were next out, making the final in the medley, where they came 9th, helped by a PB from Tom on the lead-off backstroke. The lads then went one better in the freestyle by finishing 8th.

The morning session also saw the 13/14 lads and the 15/16 girls (two teams) in action though without adding to the tally of finals’ places.

Three of the older girls (Imogen, Chloe and Lucy) must have been gluttons for punishment as they stayed on to compete in the open age category in the afternoon.

The afternoon session kicked off with the two open aged girls teams in the medley, with Ellie, Chloe, Alex and Clemmie progressing to the final where they came 4th. Two teams also contested the free in this category, with Danny “shuffling the deck” a little so that Alex, Clemmie, Imogen and Ellie combined to claim a great bronze in the final, with Ellie just running out of water in her furious pursuit of the silver medal.

The 15/16 lads (Alex, Maxwell, Tiago and Ethan) put in a couple of fine shifts too, bagging 9th and 10th in their finals.

The 13/14 girls (Libby, Indi, Aiesha and Tabby) also claimed a berth in the freestyle, with Libby recording a big PB on the lead-off. Tad had two more teams in this category, showing good strength in depth which bodes well for the future.

Thus concluded the action for the Champs with a grand total of 5 golds, 5 silvers and 6 bronzes plus 38 other places in finals. These numbers may be incorrect, again for the best of reasons: it’s getting hard to keep count! But whatever the exact tally, there was an impressive array of achievements over the three weekends. As recently as 2016, the total haul was just two places in finals at the equivalent Champs.

Thanks as always go to Danny, Vicky H and Jane on the coaching front, the Team Managers (Tracy and Vicki B) and Vicki again as the Twitter Supremo. Being Team Manager for the sprints and Teams looks like a hard job to me, but keeping the Twitter feed up to date this year throughout the Champs has not been a task for the faint hearted either, given the number of successes to be reported.