Six young swimmers from Worcester Swimming Club travelled down to compete against a top field in the Wycombe Inaugural Long Course Premier Level 1 Meet which included several GB swimmers including the likes of Abbie Wood, Molly Renshaw and Roberto Pavoni.

In the opening weekend of the new eight-week qualifying window, Lucy Clayton (16), Aaron Cooke (13), Will Gearey (13), Jennifer Gearey (13), Charlotte Hall (14) and Sam Hall (15) were all looking to lay down their first set of times with the aim of qualifying for the British and Summer Nations Championships in Sheffield later this year.

This was the first level one meet held in Wycombe’s new 50m pool, attracting some of the best age group swimmers from all over England, Wales and Scotland, and several top clubs including Loughborough University, Millfield School and Guildford sending large squads.

Although medals proved elusive for most of the Worcester swimmers, there were excellent performances from all six across the weekend who produced numerous long course personal bests.

Lucy looked strong in her favoured 50m breaststroke, powering to victory in her heat with a time of 34.63, equally her pb from 2015. Lucy’s time puts her 17th in the British rankings in the 17/18 age group and she will be hoping to secure her place again in Sheffield as she did in 2015.

Breaststroke specialist Aaron, competing in his first long course event, showed no signs of nerves as he attacked both the 50m and 200m breaststroke.  In the 50m breaststroke, Aaron touched in 37.69 (27th in the 13/14 rankings) and then pushed hard in the 200m to finish in 2.48.84.  Aaron’s superb effort in the 200m sees his currently lying in 13th position in the British rankings.

Will Gearey had one of the busiest programmes within the Worcester team, tackling 10 events across the Saturday and Sunday. Will produced long course pbs throughout the weekend, with his best performances coming in the 50m fly, 50m free, and 100m freestyle.  In the 50m fly, Will produced a superb display of sprinting, clocking 28.89 to snatch a silver medal and rise to third place in the 13/14 age British rankings. In the 50m free, he powered to a new pb time of 27.47 (13th in the British rankings) and swam hard to break the long course minute barrier in the 100m free, touching the wall in 59.91 (16th in the British rankings).

Jennifer Gearey looked good in both the 50m and 100m backstroke. Jenny started quickly in the 50m backstroke, producing excellent underwater work in the first 15m and finishing strong in 33.69 (27th in 13/14 British rankings).  In the 100m event, she was just outside her previous personal best with 1.13.77.

Charlotte Hall swam brilliantly to put some fast times down in her three events, with the best performance coming in the 50m fly. Charlotte smashed her previous pb in the 50m fly, producing 30.29 and 13th in the 15-year-old British rankings. She then added two more pbs in the 50m free (28.90) and 100m fly (1.11.06).

Older brother Sam Hall was also in excellent form and looking to secure qualification again to Sheffield (where he claimed a bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke at the 2015 Summer Championships). Another breaststroke specialist, Sam went out hard in the 200m breaststroke but ended up just outside his pb with 2.40.72.  He then clocked 32.65 in the 50m breaststroke which was enough to see him take 19th spot in the British rankings for 16 year olds.

The Worcester team were also joined by Oscar Brain (15), a long-term member of Worcester SC who is now training in Plymouth. Oscar was there targeting qualifying times for the forthcoming Olympic Trials in Glasgow in April and whilst he fell slightly short of the required qualifying times, produced 1.02.17 and 2.12.72 for the 100m and 200m backstroke respectively which were both exceptional times for his age.

Commenting on the performances, Worcester’s head coach, Mark Stowe, said: “This was a top quality meet and pretty much national standard across all ages. Given that this is one of the first competitive long course events for the club in 2016, there were some promising performances and know the swimmers can go even faster. This meet was very much about putting down times in the qualifying window rather than podiums and medals. Our next target competition for the club is Bristol and I’ll be looking for our swimmers to go even faster!”