Worcester got off to an excellent start in the 2014 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 three of the other perennial top-ten teams Gloucester, Long Eaton and Redditch plus very strong, newly promoted teams Bicester and Belper.

It was always likely to be a close, exciting gala… and the competition fully lived up to expectations… extremely hard fought, with some fantastic swimming from all six Clubs.

The Worcester swimmers showed real resolve and fantastic team spirit… making the most of home advntage… to finish a terrific second.

The final points were Bicester 198, Worcester 192, Gloucester 189, Long Eaton 160, Redditch 153, Belper 152.

First places were really hard to come by… just 8 in total… but it was the consistency and strength in depth, very noticeable in the Relays, that saw Worcester pip local rivals Gloucester for 2nd place.

Star of the show was Megan Willetts who produced a masterclass in the opening event of the night, the Ladies Open 200m Individual Medley, to win by less than half a second, before storming to another 1st place in the 100m Backstroke.

Ellie van Vuren, back from University in Loughborough to support the team, paced her effort perfectly to win the Ladies Open 100m Freestyle by 0.14 whilst younger team mate Olivia Fletcher produced a blistering 1.03.51 to win the 13/u 100m Freestyle.

The other wins came in the Relays with the 13/u girls grabbing a brace…. first Jenny Gearey, Sophie Davis, Amy Owens and Charlotte Hall winning the 4x50m Medley Relay and then Charlotte, Jenny, Ellie McGinnes and Olivia Fletcher taking the 4×50 Freestyle relay.

Worcester rounded off the night in grand style winning both the Open Freestyle relays… the Ladies’ team of Ellie van Vuren, Megan Willetts, Emma Lovesey, Lizzie Bentley, Emily Stancer and Samantha Gearey beating a powerful Long Eaton squad by 0.24… and the Men’s team of Robin Williams, Anthony Redfern, James Marsh, Mike Adair, William Hadley and James Allen just getting the better of another strong Gloucester squad.

However, it was one of those galas where every single point counted… 2nd instead of 3rd or 5th instead of 6th making a huge difference and whilst not placed first, several swimmers’ efforts really stood out…

The 11/u boys finished 2nd or 3rd in every event, each one of Isaac Shepherd, George Glover, Max Rice, Tom Cox, Daniel Day and Sam Hartley making a huge contribution to the team effort.

In the 13’s, Sam Clayton continued his massive improvement with another monster Personal Best Time in the 100m Butterfly, his 1.12.59 earning a vital 5 points for 2nd place… whilst Yasemin Tayar produced another big PB of 1.11.77 in the Girls 15/u 100m Butterfly.

It was above all else though a TEAM performance with many swimmers willing to turn out for just one relay so that their Club could do its very best.

The full team was: Izzy Trow, Georgia Hill, Imogen Rhodes, Megan Bury, Becky Yates, Ellie McGinnes, Sophie Davis, Amy Owens, Charlotte Hall, Olivia Fletcher, Jenny Gearey, Lucy Clayton, Yasemin Tayar, Hattie Goff, Emily Stancer, Caitlin Adair, Freya Lines, Megan Willetts, Sophie Groves, Ellie van Vuren, Emma Lovesey, Lizzie Bentley, Issac Shepherd, George Glover, Max Rice, Danial Day, Sam Hartley, Tom Cox, Kai Gooden-Morris, James Clews, Matthew Richards, Sam Clayton, Toby Elston, Alex Hughes, Sam Hall, Ben Holmes, Oscar van Vuren, Mike Adair, James Marsh, Robin Williams, Anthony Redfern, William Hadley and James Allen.