More than 50 eager young swimmers gathered on the bank of Rother Valley Country Park to take part in the Championships. The overcast conditions did not deter swimmers tackling two distances from 1750 metres – 15/16 Yrs Age Group through to a 2000m – 17/18 Yrs Age Group.
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In the 1750m 15/16 Yrs Age Group racing was as fast and furious with the top boys two touching within a mere four seconds of each other. Caleb Hughes (15) from Hatfield emerged from the lake to take the win in 19:43.33 with Glasgow’s Mark Deans (16) taking second.
Hughes said: “It was ok; I have done it for the past three years and wanted to improve on my time and position. It is an option to go further with open water in my career”.
The first girl in a time 21:19.04 was 15-year old Lucinda Campbell of Windsor who touched just one second ahead of rival 14 year old Philippa Shuttleworth from Hatfield.
Harry Smith (15, UEA Norwich) took third in the boys race with a time 20:03.91 and Madeleine Tichborne (15, Barnet Copt) was third in the girls with a time of 21:44.13.
In the 2000m event Aydin Berki (18, Hatfield) posted 23:20.81 for the fastest time over the distance and was the winner of the boys 17/18 Yrs Age Group with Lucy Charles (17, Hatfield) taking second overall and first girl in a time of 23:39.43.
Michael Gunning (17, Beckenham) pushed Charles all the way with a 23:42.87 to take third overall and silver in the boys while third went to Christopher Allan (17, Hamilton UAE) in a time of 24:08.67.
Danielle Huskisson (18, Co Sunderland) took silver in the girls event and fourth overall in a time 24:06.25 while Huskisson’s teammate Gabrielle Hignett (16) was third in a time of 24:10.40.
The final day of the ASA Open Water Festival saw a mixed field of experienced open water swimmers, pool swimmers and a few brave souls simply out to try something different.
The 1500m saw a total of 30 swimmers take on twice the course length of Rother Valley Country Park with an overall winning time of 18:56.00 posted by Archie Mitchell from Wandsworth Swimming Club and winner of the Boys 14 yrs Age Group.
Bradley Slavinec added to Hatfield Swimming Club’s podium places on the second day with second place in the 14 years old boys and second place overall in a time of 18:56.33. Third place went to Toby Robinson of Wolverhampton SC in a time of 19:03.37.
For a couple of the young girls, the shock of the colder 17.5⁰C going with a refreshing wind and some chop on the water making sighting and finding a rhythm a challenge saw them drop out in the first stage of the race.
However, Cavan Beck (12, Bo Southend) and Sophie Evans (12, Nexus Valley) forged ahead from the start and finished in first place in the 12 years age group, Beck taking the boys in 20.54.52 and Evans the girls in 20.06.61.
Boys second place went to Harry Bradford (12) of Thanet SC who had just narrowly missed out of a medal in the pool 1500m swim. Third went to Samuel Budd (12, Co Sheffield).
Girls’ silver went to Rosie Rudin (12, Nova Centurian) and third place to Rosie Foden who with fellow teammate and silver medallist in the boys 13 year age group Samuel Thompson picked up the award on behalf of Northampton swimming club for top club.
Winner of the 13 year boys age group in a golden time of 19:26.11 from Cockermouth went to first time Open water swimmer Thomas Millburn.
Milburn said “it was quite hard to start when they all together but gets easier as they spread out and its new sighting with your head up, but will do it again”.
Bronze went to Ben Evans of Thanet SC.
Junior athlete Erin Nabney hailing from Ealing – former British Open Water swimmer Paula Wood’s club – proved that the girls are more than capable of competing with their male counterparts over all distances by taking third overall and first girl in 13 years age group in a time of 19:34.39.
Nabney touched nearly eight seconds ahead of silver medallist Nicole Ryan (13, Windsor) and 10 seconds ahead of Bronze medallist Antonia Heseltine (13, Co Sheffield).