Worcester Swimming Club sent a five-strong team to the 2018 British Summer Championship at Ponds Forge International Centre in Sheffield, coming away with two medals and reaching numerous finals. Run across six days, the national event is the highlight of the swimming calendar for age group athletes, with the top 24 ranked British swimmers invited to compete. Each event ran heats in the morning, with the top ten fastest making it through to finals.
Making his competitive debut at the top level, Daniel Day was chasing medals in backstroke and freestyle events in the boys 13/14 age group. Day’s first event of the championship was the 50m backstroke and he made an excellent start to his programme. Day produced a personal best (pb) to qualify for the final in fifth with 28.74. The final was always going to be a close affair, with hardly anything separating the swimmers, and Day produced another pb (28.55) to touch in seventh.
No stranger to national level competition, Tabitha Monkhouse’s first event was also a sprint – the 50m breaststroke in the 19 years / over age group. Monkhouse attacked from the start in the heats, powering to touch first in 33.07, enough to qualify for the final in tenth. In the evening final, Monkhouse again swam well, just outside her heat time, producing 33.12 to finish tenth.
Day was again in action, this time tackling the 100m backstroke while Matt Redfern’s first event was the Multi-Classification 100m backstroke. During the heats, Day improved on his entry time to qualify for the final in tenth (1.02.92), while Redfern swam 1.06.59 (616 points, S13 category) just missing out on the final in the fiercely-competitive MC format. In his 100m back final, Day produced another excellent swim, going faster and another Pb with 1.02.34 to finish a credible eighth.
Will Gearey, hoping to add to his bronze medal in the 50m fly in 2017, opened his 2018 programme in the 15-year-old 100m free. Ranked 18th, he produced a massive pb (54.41) to qualify as fifth fastest. In the final, Gearey attacked the first 50m hard, producing yet another pb (54.08) to finish a fantastic fifth.
Paralympic silver medallist, Rebecca Redfern, still in full training ahead of the European championships, eased into the MC 100m breaststroke final with 1.17.24 (825 points, S13 category). She then produced her fastest time since Rio Olympics to take bronze in 1.15.60 (880 points).
Day and Matt Redfern narrowly missed out on 100m freestyle finals, with Day clocking 58.10 and Redfern 1.00.50 (593 points) in the MC 100m free.
The last day of action for siblings, Rebecca and Matt Redfern. Rebecca tackled the MC 200m IM first, touching the wall in 2.48.79 (616 points) and then swam the MC 50m free heats in 30.41 (682 points) to qualify for the final. Older brother Matt also competed in the MC 50m free heats, producing 27.17 (586 points) which again just saw him miss out on the final. Despite qualifying for the 200m IM final, Rebecca pulled out to focus on the 50m freestyle which is a target event at European Championships. In the 50m free, she ducked under 30 seconds with 29.98 (712 points) to finish seventh.
Gearey was Worcester’s soul competitor on the penultimate day of the Summer Championships, going in one of his favourite events – the 50m freestyle. Ranked sixth during qualification, this event was one that Gearey had high hopes to get on the podium. In the heats, Gearey flew off the blocks to produce another pb (24.89) which placed him third going into the evening final. In the final, Gearey had another fantastic start, powering down the 50m lane to take a superb silver medal in 26.74 (pb) to go one better than his bronze in 2017.
The final day of the competition saw Day, Monkhouse and Gearey all in action, looking to end the championships on a high.
Backstroke specialist, Day, was hunting medals in the 200m back, qualifying strongly in the heats in seventh with 2.16.46 (pb). In the final, he produced another equally strong swim, touching in 2.15.33 (pb) and an excellent seventh.
Although Monkhouse had qualified for the 100m breaststroke, she decided to focus on the 100m fly, attacking from the start in her heat to win in a new pb time (1.03.24). Going in ninth fastest into the final, Monkhouse again took it out hard in the first 50m, and with 75m was still in the thick of the action. She touched in another pb time (1.03.18) and fantastic ninth place to finish her championship programme.
Gearey’s final event was the 50m fly in which he won a bronze medal in 2017. Struggling with form this season, Gearey had only managed to qualify in 22nd place so knew he need massive improvement to even reach the final. With a good lane draw in the heats, Gearey flew down the pool to win his heat in 26.99 (pb) which proved to just be enough qualifying in tenth. Hoping to get amongst the medals from an outside lane, Gearey dug deep to produce another pb (26.74) and, although slightly off the pace, also improved his rankings to eighth.
Mark Stowe, Worcester’s head coach, said: “I was thoroughly delighted with the performances, especially seeing so many PB’s in the heats, only for these to be bettered again in the finals, with all the swimmers stepping up to the challenge every time!”