Luton was the destination for a group of swimmers, their parents and their head coach, to spend their bank holiday weekend, rather than at a beach or BBQ! Great Yarmouth swimming club had 5 swimmers who had qualified to participate in the 2018 age group regionals, competing against the fastest swimmers from throughout the East Region, comprising of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.
The championships are held over three days, and are extremely competitive, with morning and afternoon sessions comprising of event heats, and then the third session of the day being the finals. Reaching a final, at a regional championships, is a huge achievement, as swimmers will often be racing against other county champions in their age group.
Finley Coman reached two finals this year, in the boys age 13 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle. Finley had swum the fastest 50m freestyle of his life in the morning heat (in an impressive 27.38 seconds) to qualify 3rd fastest in a time that was almost 2 seconds faster than his 2017 time. In the final he produced another superb pb of 27.26, and so was disappointed to come away with 4thplace. Finley then swam a strong and consistent 100m freestyle heat of 1.02.34 which was just outside his pb time, but gave him a convincing qualification time for the finals that evening. He commented to head coach Liam Harvey that he felt he had more to give in the final. He was right! In his best swim of his championships, he smashed his previous pb time, finishing his 100m in a brilliant 1.00.52 to take a bronze medal. Head coach Liam Harvey commented “he went into the final with the most determined look on his face, and used the frustration of the miss of a medal in the 50m to swim his heart out to achieve such an impressive time for a swimmer of his age.”
Finley had qualified for an impressive 13 events, but chose to compete in 7 of them. Along with his 50m and 100m freestyle, he also raced the 50m butterfly, where he narrowly missed his pb against some very strong opposition, the 100m breaststroke, which he went into with confidence and powered home, narrowly missing his pb. In the 50m breaststroke he’d had the boost of his 100m freestyle performance and swam a great pb of 37.44 which on this occasion did not qualify him for the final. In the last event of the whole meet, the 200m freestyle, Finley gave it his all (going out in the first 50m in 32.52) but fatigue from a weekend of competing perhaps took its toll and he just missed out on a last pb time, and did not place in the final.
The 4 other swimmers from Great Yarmouth (Harvey Larner, Jasmine Coleman, Jacob Zandbergen and Sam Coman) were all experiencing the Regional Championships for the first time. Competing in a pool they had not raced in before, meant the pressure, worries and excitement were all extra elements for them to deal with. They all handled it with impressive confidence, managing to channel the nerves into energy for their races.
Harvey Larner competed in the boys age 11/12 50m freestyle, and despite his nerves, maintained his focus in the water, smashing his old pb by a whole second, finishing in a great time of 31.17. Jasmine Coleman had been delighted to qualify for the girls 11/12 100m butterfly having narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 50m butterfly as well. She put her nerves to one side and got a great start with good underwater speed. This contributed to her absolutely fantastic pb time of 1.18.81 taking a huge 3 seconds off her previous fastest swim. Jacob Zandbergen was also experiencing regionals for the first time and competed in the boys age 14 50m freestyle. Jacob had not been able to train properly in the lead up to the championships due to ill health, but according to head coach Liam Harvey, showed “remarkable determination and drive to want to succeed” in his heat and although he was just outside his previous pb time, he enjoyed the experience and will have learnt a lot from it. Sam Coman had been thrilled to qualify for 4 events, in the boys age 11/12 category. He started his regionals positively, with a great pb in the 50m freestyle. His next race was the grueling 200m butterfly, which most swimmers would acknowledge as being one of the most physically demanding events to compete in. His heat was the first of the morning session and he paced his race very well, only tiring slightly towards the end. He achieved a great pb time of 3.07.30 and his highest placing of 11thin the championships. He then competed in the 100m freestyle, which head coach Liam Harvey said was arguably Sam’s best swim of the meet - in terms of racing skills. He was focused behind the blocks, had great power out on the first few meters and stayed strong to the end. He swam a long course pb of 1.09.46. Sam’s final race was the 100m butterfly. Sam has always been a strong flier, and didn’t disappoint in this heat. He went out hard and maintained his speed finishing in a 3 second pb of 1.22.29.
Well done to all of the swimmers who competed in the age group regionals this year, and thanks to the coaching team, parents and the volunteers from the club who gave up their time to help run the gala pool side.
Earlier on in May, Tommy Chandler had competed in the Youth Regionals, which are for swimmers aged 15 and over. Tommy has been a real positive addition to Great Yarmouth Swimming Club since rejoining us, and was our sole representative at these championships. Combining training with revising for his GSCEs has been tough, and it showed real dedication to the sport that he chose to participate in the championships, so close to his exams. Tommy’s strongest stroke has always been breaststroke, and he competed in this discipline over 3 distances: 50m, 100m and 200m. With good pacing and strong technique, he achieved a new long course pb in the 200m and had great swims in the 50m and 100m where he was very close to his fastest times. Well done Tommy, we look forward to seeing you represent the club again at the Winter Regionals in November.