Worcester got off to an excellent start in the 2015 National Swimming League, sponsored by Arena.

This is the most prestigious Club competition of the year and Worcester is in the Midlands Premier Division, so every gala is really tough.

Round 1 this year was no exception with Worcester drawn against two of the other five Finalists from last year plus perennial top-flight teams Redditch, Stratford and Abingdon.

The Worcester swimmers showed some excellent early season form to finish a terrific second, closer to Boldmere than in last year’s Final and comfortably clear of Braunstone… intriguingly quicker in 37 of the 50 races than in the same gala last year, proof positive of the Club’s continuing improvement.

The final points were Boldmere 247, Worcester 214, Braunstone 163, Redditch 156, Abingdon 148 and Stratford 122.

First places were hard to come by… just 10 in total… with 5 of these coming in the individual races.

Olivia Fletcher was the star of the show, picking up a brace… winning both the 13/u 100m Breaststroke and the 100m Freestyle, the latter in a stunning1.00.37, incredibly close to breaking the magic 1 minute barrier.

In the same age group, William Gearey made a spectacular debut for the team also winning the 100m Freestyle in a superb 59.57.

In the 15/u’s, fresh from his Bronze medal at the English Summer Championships, Sam Hall proved far too skilful in the 100m Breastsroke, cruising to a 4-second win whilst in the Open age group, Anthony Redfern led from the gun, winning the 100m Freestyle in very impressive style, clocking 52.05.

There were many other fine individual performances too:

The 11/u Girls showed real promise… with in particular Becky Yates (50m Backstroke and 50m Freestyle) and Sophie Pettit (50m Breaststroke) making their mark, both girls earning their team invaluable extra points by grabbing 2nd places in very tight finishes.

In the 13’s, Jenny Gearey (100m Backstroke) and Matthew Richards (100m Butterfly) had to settle for runners-up spots but showed real class, posting excellent Personal Best times, 1.09.78 and 1.07.53 respectively.

In the Open age group, Mike Adair (100m Backstroke) and Lucy Clayton (100m Breaststroke) demonstrated real resolve to bag critical 2nd place finishes as well, exemplifying the team spirit on show.

This was above all else though a real TEAM performance… with Worcester’s strength in depth firmly on show in the Relays… many swimmers willing to turn out for just one relay so that their Club could do its very best… the result, Worcester only once out of the top three in the Relays!

There were excellent wins for both the 15/u Girls in the 4x50m Freestyle Relay (Charlotte Hall, Olivia Fletcher, Hattie Goff and Emily Stancer all below 29 seconds) and the Open Girls (Sophie Groves, Lucy Clayton, Tabitha Monkhouse and Samantha Gearey beating a star studded Boldmere line up).

The Men though were not to be outdone! In the 15’s, Kai Gooden-Morris, Sam Hall and Robert Latta combined with Matthew Richards (Medley) and Will Gearey (Freestyle) to win both their Relays… whilst in the Open age group, Anthony Redfern, James Marsh, Mike Adair, Ben Holmes, William Hadley and Sam Hall rounded off a splendid evening with victory in the final race, the 6x50m Freestyle Relay.

The Club will now look forward to Round 2 and a tilt at a place in the League Final for a second consecutive year.

The full team was: Becky Yates, Sophie Pettit, Lottie Martin, Aimee Monks, Bryony Lowe, Jenny Gearey, Olivia Fletcher, Leyla Tayar, Josie Armstrong, Lottie Trevethan, Hattie Goff, Sophie Davis, Yasemin Tayar, Emily Stancer, Charlotte Hall, Tabitha Monkhouse, Sophie Groves, Lucy Clayton, Eloise van Vuren, Emma Lovesey, Samantha Gearey, Daniel Day, George Glover, Max Rice, Oliver Foster, Daniel Kearley, Matthew Richards, Aaron Cook, William Gearey, Louis Doyle, Isaac Shephered, Sam Hartley, Kai Gooden-Morris, Sam Hall, Robert Latta, James Marsh, Mike Adair, Anthony Redfern, William Hadley and Ben Holmes.