Worcester SC eased into the West Midlands final of the National Arena Swimming League, with a dominant performance in the second round.
Having won their first gala at Tamworth by a clear margin, Worcester’s top squad faced a 200-mile round trip to Alfreton in Derbyshire for Round 2 to compete against Sutton in Ashfield, City of Derby B, Bilston, Arnold and Radford. Lying second in the league just behind City of Derby A, Worcester knew that victory would guarantee their place in the regional final.
The team duly delivered, winning an incredible 21 out of 50 races and snatched 13 second places to storm into the final.
Worcester’s Olivia Fletcher got the team off to a flying start, with victory in the Ladies Open 200m IM (2.24.91) and maximum points. It wasn’t long before another win was notched up, this time coming from the Boys 11/u 4 x 50m freestyle quartet of Harry Chandler, Jacob Cutler, Will Pridden and Will Thomas. Worcester proved too strong in the relays across the age groups, with victories for the Girls 15/u 4 x 50m freestyle (Maddie Fox-Haskins, Lauren Annis, Natasha Dobson and Megan Annis); the Boys 15/u 4 x 50m freestyle (Louis Doyle, George Glover, Daniel Day and Will Gearey; the Ladies Open 4 x 50m medley (Naomi Marsden, Tabitha Monkhouse, Charlotte Hall and Fletcher) and Mens Open 4 x 50m medley (Alex Farmer, Anthony Redfern, Matt Thomas and Joel Smith).
With the team relays out the way and onto the individual races, Worcester had moved into an early lead after 10 events on 52 points, with Sutton back in second on 43 points and Bilston third.
Megan Annis claimed the win the Girls 15/u 100m backstroke (1.09.80), while Doyle also won the Boys 15/u 100m back in 1.01.71. Monkhouse made it three consecutive wins, taking first place in the Ladies Open 100m fly in 1.04.01, while Will Gearey also won the Boys 15/u 100m fly in 1.01.29.
After 26 events, Worcester had extended their lead over Sutton, maintaining their lead on 123 points, with Sutton on 108 points and Bilston back in third.
Jennifer Gearey fought hard to win the Ladies Open 100m backstroke (1.09.56), while Monkhouse, Will Gearey and Fletcher bagged themselves a brace of individual wins. Monkhouse never looked troubled in the Ladies Open 100m breaststroke, winning by a margin in 1.15.74. Gearey had an easy win in the Boys 15/u 100m freestyle, clocking 55.02 for maximum points; and Fletcher led from the gun in the Ladies Open 100m freestyle, with victory in 59.95.
There were also second places in individual events for Milly Hemming, Chandler, David Annis, Farmer, Grace Earp, Will Thomas, Max Murray, Harvey Lloyd and Lauren Annis.
After 42 events and individual events completed with just the team relays to go, Worcester saw their lead reduced slightly by Sutton but still had a comfortable margin for victory.
The Girls 11/u 4 x 50m medley (Hemming, Earp, Libby Gooden-Morris and Meghan Higgs) claimed the first of Worcester’s seven victories in the relays, which was followed immediately by another win for the Boys 11/u 4 x 50m medley with Cutler, Thomas, Chandler and Pridden proving too strong.
Relay win number three came from the Boys 13/u 4 x 50m freestyle quartet of Adam Rutter, Murray, Sam H and David Annis; the Girls 15/u 4 x 50m medley team of Dobson, Lauren and Megan Annis plus Madeleine Fox-Haskins also won easily as did the Boys 15/u 4 x 50m medley team (Day, Glover, Will Gearey and Doyle).
Ladies Open 6 x 50m freestyle team of Hall, Fletcher, Madeleine Hoare, Jenny Gearey, Josie Armstrong and Monkhouse looked superb in the penultimate race, stopping the clock in 2.48.70 for maximum points; while the Men’s 6 x 50m freestyle team of Jakob Baker, Kai Gooden-Morris, Redfern, Matt Thomas, Will Gearey and Joel Smith rounded off a fantastic overall club performance, storming to win in 2.29.08.
The final points for Round 2 after 50 events:
Sutton in Ashfield 219
Derby B 168
Victory in Round 2 was enough to see Worcester not only qualify for the final but topping the table ahead of City of Derby A, with Leamington and Abingdon also on the same league points. The final sees the top six teams drawn against each other at Rugby Leisure Centre in what should be a nail-biting finale.
The top two teams will be invited to the National A and B finals respectively in Cardiff in April. Worcester reached the B final for the first time in the Club’s history in 2018 and will be looking to go one better this time around.
Total Gala PointsTotal League Points
1/ Worcester 479 22
2/ City of Derby A 473 22
3/ Leamington Spa 453 22
4/ Abingdon 429 22
5/ Sutton in Ashfield 432 20
6/ Boldmere A 429 19
Worcester’s full squad for Round 2 also included Beth Stokes, Emily Clacher, Jess Dobson, Emma McKay, Ciara Mahanta, Beau Vaughan-Hawkins and Bryony Lowe.