Worcester Swimming Club were dominant at this year’s 2017 County Relay Championships held at Wolverhampton Central Baths, winning the prestigious top club award by a clear margin from their local rivals.  Worcester won a staggering 22 gold medals across the various age groups as well as setting a new county record (CR) in the ladies’ medley and seven new Championship Best Times (CBT).

The masters’ events, in which they compete in combined age groups, proved to be the most exciting to watch, with many of their events being settled on the last 25m.

First to strike gold for Worcester was the mixed masters team (combined aged between 101-139 years) with Alison Etheridge, Adam Wills, Alex Pritchard and John Pridden proving too strong for the opposition in the freestyle.  Worcester also claimed gold in the medley in the age group, with Dani Hunt, Dominque Allen, Joel Smith and Jamie Driscoll holding off the challenges from Stourbridge and Oldbury.

Worcester didn’t have to wait long for win number three, with the girls 15/16 medley team (Naomi Marsden, Lily Merrell, Charlotte Hall and Amber Harrison) taking the win in style and produced a new CBT (2.06.27) in doing so.

In the youngest age group (9-10 years), Worcester’s rising stars showed the future is very bright for the club, with wins for both the girls and boys team.  The girl’s quartet comprising Amelie Forsyth-Ball, Isobel Foster, Carmen West and Olivia Eggleton bagged a brace of gold medals, winning both the medley and freestyle relay events in formidable fashion.  The boy’s 9-10 team of William Pridden, William Thomas, Beau Vaughan-Hawkins and Harry Chandler claimed first place in the medley event.

Worcester’s female masters’ teams showed that they had lost none of their competitive spirit, with superb wins for both the 101-139 and 140+ combined age teams in both medley and freestyle events.   Pritchard and Etheridge were joined by Dani Hunt and Dominique Allen to produce back-to-back wins in the 101-139 age group, while Kate Lloyd, Emma Armstrong, Helen Annis and Elaine Hill proved far too quick in the 140+ age group medley to win gold, with Sam Hill stepping in for Elaine in the freestyle relay to comfortably win that too.

Performance of the day though came from the girls 13/14 medley relay team in what proved to be a nail-biting finish.  Jenny Gearey, Olivia Fletcher, Megan Annis and Josie Armstrong broke a new County Record and CBT, with a stunning team effort to take gold in 2.02.78.  The quartet also took gold in the freestyle event in the afternoon, clocking up their second CBT with a time of 1.52.90.

Worcester were also a class apart in the boys 13/14 age group, taking two gold medals and creating two new CBTs on the way.  Daniel Day, Will Gearey, Matthew Richards and Alex Farmer claimed victories by considerable margins in both the medley (1.56.15 CBT) and freestyle (1.44.20 CBT).

Lauren Hill, Tabby Monkhouse, Caitlin Adair and Lucy Clayton won both golds in the 17-24 age groups relays, never looking troubled from the gun.  It was a similar story for the boys 17-24 quartet of Anthony Redfern, Alex Westwood, Ben Holmes and Sam Hall, claiming victories in the medley and producing a new CBT in the freestyle (1.38.11).

In the boys 15/16 age group, Matthew Thomas, Harvey Lloyd, Aaron Cook and Kai Gooden-Morris took the win from a strong Halesowen side, while there was another gold for the men’s masters (101-139 years), with Smith, Driscoll, Wills and Pridden powering to victory.  Malcom Latta, Simon Richards, Paul Tainty and Andy Shepherd notched up more wins for the masters, this time in the men’s 140 years’ + medley.

Worcester’s final gold of the day came courtesy of the boys’ 11/12 medley relay, with David Annis, Henry Halford, Adam Rutter and Eddie Cox putting in a very strong all-round performance.

Silver medals for:

  • mixed masters 140+ years (H Annis, Steve Yates, Sam Hill, Latta)
  • boys 15/16 years medley (Thomas, Lloyd, Cook, Gooden-Morris)
  • men’s masters 101-139 years (J Pridden, Driscoll, Wills, Smith)
  • girls 11/12 medley (Aimee Monks, Lydia Cooper, Amelia Gearey, Lauren Annis)
  • girls 11/12 freestyle (Monks, Cooper, A Gearey, L Annis)
  • girls 15/16 freestyle (C Hall, Harrison, Merrell, Marsden)
  • men’s masters 140+ years (Tainty, Shepherd, Yates, Latta)

Bronze medals for:

  • boys 11/12 freestyle (Halford, Cox, Rutter, D Annis)
  • mixed medley 140+ years (K Lloyd, S Richards, Tainty, E Hill)

Mark Stowe, Worcester’s head coach, commented:  “It’s always a fantastic achievement to win the top club accolade.  There were so many great swims across the age groups, and particularly pleasing to see the youngsters picking up golds in the 9/10 category.  Our masters showed that they could all still swim at a high standard too!”