While Liam Tancock was competing at the World Championships in Kazan, the next generation of Exeter swimmers was surpassing all expectations as they fought for medals at the national age group championships in Sheffield. Fifteen swimmers had qualified for the championships—a club record—and every one of them progressed from the heats to a national final, with seven achieving a podium finish, and one (Dominic Wooldridge) winning double gold. It was an extraordinary performance, which demonstrates that Exeter has established itself as one of the leading swimming clubs in the country.
Tom Downs (16) and James Wamsley (16) set the standard in the first week, qualifying for finals and beating previous personal bests by large margins. Tom finished 5th in the final of the 200m fly, showing impressive back end speed as he overtook several swimmers in the last 50 metres; James came 8th in the 100m breaststroke, and just missed a medal by two-tenths in 50m breaststroke, finishing 4th from an outside lane.
The second week brought success after success, as Exeter swimmers supported and inspired each other to smash personal best times. The week couldn’t have started better.
Club captain Dominic
Wooldridge led by example to become national champion for his age group in the
100m fly, dominating his race from start to finish in a new best of 54.39. His
50m fly, later that week, was much closer, as he timed his race to perfection
by taking the lead in the last stroke to win by 0.04 seconds. On the last day of racing he produced another
personal best to finish 4th in the 400m freestyle, beaten to bronze
on the touch.
|DJ Wooldridge (DE Photos)|
Not to be outdone by the men, Exeter’s women swimmers had an astonishing week. Emily Eveling (13) took two bronze medals (200m and 400m individual medley), an 8th (100m backstroke) and a 5th (200m backstroke). Her ability to push herself to even faster times
in the final was copied by Aliyah- Mai Webb (15), who swam strongly all week to reach three finals, coming 8th (200m individual medley), 7th (200m backstroke) and 7th again (400m IM). Millie Price (17) showed all her racing experience, pacing her 200m breaststroke final perfectly to overhaul several swimmers in the final stages and finish 4th with a brilliant swim. In her first national championships, Katie Townsend (15) achieved a personal best of 31.98 in the heats of 50m backstroke, and went four-tenths quicker in the final to take 7th from an outside lane. Olivia Burrow (13), another first-timer, qualified 10th for the 50m backstroke and finished 6th with a huge personal best.
|Liam White (DE Photos)|
In the same week that Exeter’s Matt Ramsay (14) was coming 8th in the 50m freestyle of the Welsh nationals, back in Sheffield the club’s vice-captain, Liam White (17), reached two finals, and took a fantastic bronze in a tight finish to the 50m backstroke. He and Dominic Wooldridge were joined by teammates Will Amey and Jack Pearson for the men’s 17 and over relays; they missed the final by a fraction in the 4x100m medley, but came back to qualify in 7th, and finish 6th, for the 4x200m freestyle. That depth of talent was shown again in 14-16 year-old men’s team, as the squad of Tom Downs, James Wamsley, Ollie Palmer, Matty Seabrook and Charlie Kendall qualified for three finals, smashing their seed times in the process. In the 4x100m freestyle they came 6th, and 9th in the 4x200m freestyle. Saving the best until last, and having qualified in 6th place for the 4x100m medley relay, they snatched a surprise silver with massive personal bests. It was a suitably breathtaking end to what had been an amazing fortnight for Exeter City Swimming Club.
Head coach Jo John was delighted: ‘These are fantastic results, with each swimmer giving that bit extra to improve on their times. They have already created an ambition around the club for more swimmers to qualify for the national championships next year. The achievement is all the more impressive considering the standard of facilities available to us in the city. Exeter deserves a 50-metre pool, so that we have the same training opportunities as our competitors.’