January 2018 brought a new format to the Norfolk County ASA Championships. Held at the UEA Sportspark, the championships were long course, meaning competitors raced in a 50m pool, rather than the 25m pool of previous years. For some of the younger swimmers in Great Yarmouth Swimming Club, it would have been their first experience of competing in a long course pool, but they approached it with a positive attitude, and gave 100% over two whole weekends of racing. Coming so soon after Christmas was always going to be a challenge for the swimmers, and whilst there were plenty of pbs achieved, swimmers had to dig deep, particularly in the longer events.
This year also differed in format in that only the top three swimmers in the finals were awarded trophies and medals, where as previously, reaching a county final earnst competitors a reward for their endeavors. Reaching a county final means placing in the top 8 of your age group in Norfolk, and GYSC had 7 out of the 17 girls that competed achieve this, along with an impressive 9 out of 12 boys. This is particularly pleasing considering the quality of swimmers they were racing against.
There were many excellent individual performances over the championships. For the girls, in the age 10/11s, Amelia Dibble showed real potential for the future by reaching 2 finals – 100m freestyle and 50m backstroke - whilst also gaining a top 8 place in 200m freestyle and narrowly missing out on 3 more finals in her first ever county championships. Ruby Copping and Grace Turner also competed strongly in the same age group, with Ruby reaching the 50m backstroke final and just missing out of the 100m backstroke final and Grace gaining a top 8 placing for 200m backstroke. Anna Duffield had this year moved into the age 16 and over category and swam well to gain a 5th place in the 200m butterfly, an event she has only recently started competing in, and just missed out on the final in the 100m butterfly. Jasmine Coleman had an excellent championships and came away with not only a top 8 placing for the 200m freestyle, but also made 2 finals, putting in great swims in 50m butterfly and the 100m butterfly and taking bronze in both races, a real achievement and one that displays her real talent for butterfly. Kelsey Wilson also swam with determination throughout the championships, narrowly missing out on medals in both 400m freestyle and 200m freestyle where she came a close 4th. She also made 3 other finals – she was 6th in 100m freestyle, 7th in 100m breaststroke and 7th in 100m breaststroke. Anna Pearce, as ever, was one of the hardest working swimmers of the championships competing in 15 events across the weekends. Anna is always a great all rounder, swimming strongly in all strokes and distances, but particularly excels at the distance events. Her top placing was an excellent silver in the age 14 200m butterfly. She also made the final in 50m butterfly, was 6th in 400m freestyle and 5th in the 400m individual medley. In addition to this, Anna represented Great Yarmouth at the long course County Championships the weekend after, taking part in the 800m, having qualified for the first time this year. She swam strongly, achieving another pb time and finished in a very creditable 7th place.
The Great Yarmouth boys also had some impressive performances between them. Jack Tate has been rapidly improving and continued this trend with some great swims that moved him up the rankings and also an excellent 4th place in the age 12 200m backstroke. Ernest Blas also gained a top 8 finish, coming 7th in 400m freestyle in the age 15 category. Brad Secker has continued to show real progress, particularly in breaststroke, and displayed this at the championships. He gained a great 7th place in 200m breaststroke, and made the final with an impressive swim in the 100m breaststroke, qualifying 4th fastest. Adrenaline and competitiveness got the better of him in the final, where a false start meant a dq, but the potential for future finals is there. He also had a 7th place in 200m backstroke. Raul Hasmasan is becoming a bit of a backstroke specialist, showing strength and speed in the water. He reached the final in 50m backstroke and 100m backstroke and was 6th in 200m backstroke. Tommy Chandler moved into the highly competitive 16 and over age group this year, but still made the finals in the breaststroke distances of 50m, 100m and also came 6th in 200m breaststroke. Harry Crisp recently joined Great Yarmouth and has been a real asset to the club, in a busy weekend of racing, he reached the final in the 100m backstroke and was 7th in the 200m backstroke and 7th in the 400m freestyle in the 16 and over age group. Harvey Larner once again showed how consistently fast he is in the sprint events, reaching 4 finals for the age 12 boys. He came 6th in the 50m butterfly, 5th in the 50m backstroke, 5th in 100m backstroke and was just pipped into 4th in a close 50m freestyle final. Sam Coman also swam in the age 12s and also showed consistency of speed and skill, gaining a very impressive 7 top 8 finishes. He competed in 3 finals, just missing out on a medal with a 4th place in 100m freestyle, along with a 7th place in 50m butterfly and a 5th place in 100m freestyle. He also took 6th place in 200m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 6th place in 200m IM, but his best place was an excellent silver in the 200m butterfly.
Finley Coman once again proved his talent and ability in the water having set out to retain his county titles that he won in 2017. He approached his freestyle races with particular determination, achieving his goal by becoming county champion at 50m, 100, 200m and 400m freestyle – a clean sweep for the 2nd year in a row. He won his 50m freestyle final in a time of 27.79 seconds, a time that, to put it in context, currently ranks him 2nd fastest 13 year old in Great Britain. He also reached another 4 finals, taking silver in 100m backstroke, and bronze in 50m breaststroke, 50m butterfly and 50m backstroke. In the longer events he took silver in 200m IM and bronze in 200m backstroke, meaning he medalled in all 4 disciplines. An outstanding performance.
Sunday afternoon saw a change of format, with the individual races being replaced by relay events. Also during the afternoon, presentations were made to swimmers for their participation in events where they had represented Norfolk County. Finley Coman was presented with a badge for representing Norfolk four times in 2017.
With 7 swimming clubs competing, competition was fierce and the races came thick and fast. For the swimmers in GYSC this meant a heavy schedule of races with many swimmers finishing one relay, climbing out of the pool and going straight away to line up for the next. However, the team spirit and cheering of team-mates and spectators spurred them on and all of them gave 100%. The county relay gala gave an opportunity for some of the club's youngest swimmers such as Charlie Foulger and Thomas Smith to take part in their first big club event, alongside GYSC's more senior swimmers and club captains. The club had some strong races, with the junior ladies individual medley team (Grace Leech, Anna Pearce, Jenna Utting and Anna Duffield), junior ladies freestyle team, (Grace Leech, Anna Duffield, Jenna Utting and Kelsey Wilson) girls 9/10 freestyle (Amelia Dibble, Ruby Copping, Grace Turner and Bethany Gordon), girls 9/10 individual medley and men’s medley team (Ryan Webb, Tommy Chandler, Harry Crisp and Ernest Blas) all taking 3rd place in their races. Other swimmers who swam for the team were Nathan Pitman, Sam Coman, Finley Coman, Kelsey Wilson, Melissa Duffield, Summer Adair, Charlie Brown, Harvey Larner, Jasmine Coleman, Mollie Medler, Alyssa Greenall, Chloe Haworth and Billy Wilson. In 7th place at the half way mark, the team dug deep and in the final placings came 5th - ahead of Thetford and Diss Otters. The City of Norwich team were the eventual winners.
Well done to all the swimmers who gained qualification times for the 2018 Norfolk County Championships and participated in the galas. Well done also to those swimmers who represented the club in the relay gala, and showed such great team spirit. Thanks go to the coaching team, officials, parents and volunteers who supported the swimmers throughout the championships.