City of Oxford’s younger swimmers kept their cool to notch up a host of personal best times at a packed development meet at the Leys Pool and Leisure Centre on 5 March.
The first Oxford development meet of 2016 was attended by no less than seven visiting clubs – Abingdon Vale, Banbury, Bicester, Didcot Barramundi, Four Shires, Wantage and Witney. Despite the crowds poolside, an air of calm determination prevailed among the participants, many of whom hadn’t competed in their events before, and who showed great character to overcome their nerves.
Among them was 8-year-old Jude Prichard, swimming for the first time in the boys’ 50m butterfly event, which launched the meet’s proceedings. With so many swimmers from rival clubs racing, Oxford’s youngsters had to work hard to prove themselves fastest in their age categories, but among those to do so in the first event were 9-year-old Lachlan Middleton and 13-year-old Jacob Taylor.
Twelve-year-old Tufayl Ahmed notched up the third-fastest time in his age category despite never having competed in the event before; an achievement he repeated later in the evening, in the boys’ 100m freestyle.
Next up was the girls’ 100m backstroke event, and City of Oxford’s Nalinratn Sophastienph proved herself the fastest 8-year-old, as she did again later in the 100m breaststroke – despite not having competed in either event before. Nalinratn was also second fastest in the girls’ 50m freestyle event.
Oxford’s Ella Joyce and Juliet Anthony were first and third fastest among the 9-year-olds in the 100m backstroke event, with Juliet knocking nearly 10 seconds off her personal best time (PB). Competing in huge fields, Megan Peake was the fastest 10-year-old, and Ellen Grainger the second-fastest 11-year-old, beating her own PB by more than five seconds.
The backstroke was followed by a fast and furious girls’ 50m freestyle event, in which Oxford’s Zara Porter triumphed among the 8-year-olds and Juliet Anthony was fastest among the 9-year-olds. Eleven-year-old Rosie Hilton-Dew also had a great swim, notching up the second-fastest time in her age category and knocking over three seconds off her PB.
In the boys’ 100m freestyle event, Oxford’s 9-year-olds were second and third fastest: Ethan Bird and Lachlan Middleton again respectively. Eleven-year-old Benjamin Holmes was third-fastest in his age category, reducing his PB by a whopping 10 seconds.
With Nalinratn Sophastienph first and Zara Porter second fastest among the 8-year-olds in the girls’ 100m breaststroke, Eleni Ioannou made it a top three for Oxford, finishing third fastest and over eight seconds inside her PB. Juliet Anthony and Ella Joyce continued to have a good evening, finishing first and second fastest among the 9-year-olds, and Oxford’s 10-year-olds followed suit, Ellen Bagley and Lily Brabbin first and second respectively. Stephanie Jervis was the fastest 11-year-old on the night in the same event.
There was a much smaller field for the boys’ 200m backstroke event, but Ethan Bird was among those completing his eight lengths; he finished third-fastest among the 9-year-olds, nearly 16 seconds inside his PB. Benjamin Holmes, swimming in the event for the first time, was fastest among the 11-year-olds, and 12-year-old Stan Prichard was third-fastest in his age category, cutting his PB for the event by almost 10 seconds.
The last event of the evening was the gruelling 200m butterfly for the girls, and Oxford’s Stephanie Jervis (11) and Trinity Talkington (12) both did well to notch up times during their first outings in the event.