Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Devon Age Group Championships, 15-16 February 2014

Warm up on Saturday lunchtime
The county's strongest swimmers converged on the Life Centre in Plymouth this weekend, to compete in the age-group section of the 2014 Championships. Exeter swimmers were out in force, across all strokes and ages. Several of the younger swimmers were enjoying their first taste of county competition.

Emily collecting her gold medal for 200m backstroke
The weekend haul for Exeter came to 6 gold medals, 8 silver and 7 bronze. Emily Eveling (12), who has progressed rapidly through the club having graduated from Swim School only three years ago, put on a spectacular display in the 200m backstroke to win her age group final by 6 seconds in 2:28.39, achieving her first national qualifying time in the process. Emily is the seventh swimmer to secure her place in the national finals at Sheffield this summer.

The women's 200m backstroke was particularly successful for Exeter swimmers. In the 13-year-old category, Aliyah-Mai Webb took bronze, while 11-year-olds Olivia Passmore and Milly Kendall won gold and silver respectively in their age group. Amelia Ashelford delivered a gutsy performance from lane 7 to take silver in the 10-year-olds' final.

Amelia receiving Jo's congratulations!
There were medals, as well, in the women's 100m freestyle, where Sammy Gray won gold in the 16-and-over category, and Milly Kendall and Olivia Passmore captured silver and bronze for 11 year-olds; all three secured qualifying times for the regional finals at Millfield in June.

Milly Kendall and Olivia Passmore win
silver and gold in 200m backstroke
In the women's 400m freestyle, Sammy Gray qualified for the Championship final. There were age-group bronze medals for Rebecca Anderson (15) and Aliyah-Mai Webb (13), and Olivia Passmore's silver ensured that she completed the weekend with a medal of every colour. Rebecca Anderson qualified for the 50m backstroke championship final, where she finished just over a second away from silver in 5th place.

Not to be outdone, Exeter's men won 11 of the club's 21 medals. Liam White (15) was the star performer in his age group, with golds in 200m IM and 200m breaststroke, and bronze in 100m free, where Freddie Fearnley just pipped him to second place. Freddie's elder brother, George (18), won the 16-and-over category in the same event, and Sam Criddle took silver in the 12-year-olds' final. Sam doubled up with a silver in 200m IM, while Elliot Svensson (10) and Tom Price (12) won bronze in 200m breaststroke. Tom Downs (15) delivered a storming performance to capture gold in 50m backstroke, while special mention should go (again!) to Liam White for being the fastest qualifier from his age group and competing in the Championship final. James Wamsley (15), another over-performer in his age group, was promoted to the Championship final of the 200m breaststroke, where he became junior champion and finished 5th overall. Tom Downs was fastest in his age group for 200m butterfly and qualified for the Championship final. Dominic Wooldridge (18) took silver in 2:08.56 in the Championship final of the 200m butterfly.

This first full weekend of the Devon County Championships delivered not just medals but regional and national qualifying times, and countless personal bests, for Exeter swimmers. With two more weekends to come, these results augur well for a very successful year!

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