Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Devon BagCats

The original Bagcat
Although the precise details of the BagCats (British Age Group Categories) scoring system have flummoxed the most brilliant minds, its purpose is simply to measure the performances of swimmers in the same age group (up to 14 years old), and to reward versatility across strokes and distances. For an explanation, see here.

Alec White with his BagCat award
At this year's Devon Age Group Championships, Exeter swimmers achieved a number of top 6 rankings. Sam Criddle came 3rd, and Alec White 6th, in the men's 12-year-old category, while Olivia Passmore and Milly Kendall finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in the women's 11-year-old category. Amongst the 12-year-olds, Emily Eveling was ranked 2nd, and Aliyah-Mai Webb finished 6th for the 13-year-olds.

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Devons: 15-16 March

Exeter swimmers won 24 medals in the last full weekend of the Devon County Age Group Championships at Plymouth's Life Centre. Medley events accounted for more than half of them, demonstrating the swimmers' versatility and stamina. Over 100m, there were silvers for Olivia Passmore (11), Emily Eveling (12), Alec White (12) and Tom Downs (15), as well as bronze medals for Aliyah-Mai Webb (13), Millie Price (15) and Luca Riezzo (10). Special mention to Luca for taking a medal from an outside lane. Olivia and Emily doubled up with silvers in the 400m IM, while Aliyah and Tom struck gold, and Sam Criddle (12) and Liam White (15) took bronze.

Liam and Tom
As they had done since the championships began, Liam and Tom continued their battle throughout the weekend. Liam won gold just ahead of Tom in the 200m backstroke, and that story was almost repeated in the 100m backstroke where Liam took gold and Tom bronze. In the same event, Liam's brother, Alec, came third for his age group, as did Sam Criddle over the 200m distance. George Fearnley (18) qualified for the championship final, where he narrowly missed a medal.

There was success for the women in the 100m butterfly:  Emily Eveling and Sammy Gray (16) were winners, and Grace James (11) took silver. In the 200m breaststroke, Olivia Passmore won bronze and Aliyah-Mai Webb silver for their age categories, while Millie Price qualified for the championship final as the fastest 15-year-old, and finished 6th overall.

With some long-distance events still to come, Exeter has already won over 70 medals in this year's county championships---an extraordinarily impressive achievement. Head Coach Jo John is confident that the performance bodes well for the first large meet of the season, when swimmers go to Sheffield at the beginning of April. National qualifying times for swimmers over 14 can only be swum in a 50m pool, which rules out short course times from county championships. However, Jo remains hopeful that the club will be adding to the 7 swimmers who have already achieved national times: 'the swimmers are all training very hard on speed, endurance and skills, and providing we can attain some further water time to aid their training they will fulfil their potential and the club will continue to grow.'  

Well done to swimmers on a fantastic performance at the county championships this year!

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Devons: 1-2 March 2014

The calm before the storm
Exeter swimmers took 27 medals at the second full weekend of the Devon County Age Group Championships in Plymouth’s Life Centre. Regional and national qualifying times were achieved in all strokes, thanks to superb performances against some of the toughest competition in the country.

The club’s current group of 15-year-old men, who reached national finals in freestyle and medley relays last summer, continued their dominance. In the 100m butterfly, they achieved a clean sweep, with gold, silver and bronze going to Tom Downs, Freddie Fearnley and Liam White respectively. The 100m breaststroke saw Liam touch the wall just ahead of Tom for gold, and Liam demonstrated his versatility across strokes and distances by taking gold in 400m and 200m freestyle as well. The final member of the quartet, James Wamsley, proved too fast for his age group in the 100m breaststroke heats, and was promoted to the Championship final against older swimmers, where he finished 5th.

This is what warm-up looks like
Other medals for Exeter men went to Sam Criddle (12), who took bronze in the 200m and 400m freestyle, Tom Price (12) with bronze in the 100m breaststroke, and Joe Crispin (16+) with silver in the 400m freestyle. Joe qualified for the Championship final in the 100m fly, where he achieved a personal best and picked up a silver medal. D. J. Wooldridge just missed a Championship medal in a closely-contested 200m freestyle. Jack Pearson (16), a newcomer to the club, was another to be promoted out of his age group to the Championship finals for 200m and 400m freestyle.
Having been narrowly outperformed by the men (12 medals to 11) in the first weekend of the Devons, Exeter’s women put matters right during this second weekend by outscoring them 15-12. Leading the way was Emily Eveling (12), with one gold (200m butterfly), three silvers (200m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 200m backstroke), and a bronze (100m breaststroke). In the process, she achieved new qualifying times for this summer’s national finals in Sheffield.
Also striking gold was Rebecca Anderson (15) in the 200m freestyle, an event which produced bronze for Olivia Passmore (11) and silver for Sammy Gray (16+). In the 200m individual medley, Olivia took bronze, while Millie Price (15) finished 4th in the Championship final. Millie was also moved up to the 100m breaststroke Championship final, where she came 7th, after a strong performance in her heats.
Aliyah and Emily
Aliyah-Mai Webb landed two silvers, in 100m breaststroke and 200m butterfly, while 200m fly was also strong for the 11-year-old age group where Milly Kendall and Grace James took silver and bronze. In the 100m backstroke, there was silver for Rhiannon Loveman (15), and silver also for Olivia Burrow with a feisty performance in her first age-group final.
Head Coach Jo John professed herself very pleased with results so far. She attributes the huge number of personal best times to hard training, and expects swimmers to be even faster when they taper before major events like regional and national championships.