During the last week in July and the first week of August, seven team GAW swimmers closed their competitive seasons in style at national championships; firstly at the British Swimming Championships, and then the following week at the Swim England National Meet.
At British Champs, Team GAW had three athletes competing. First up, Ryan Zhao, qualifying in no less than nine events, took on the 50m backstroke on day one. After a solid heat swim, Ryan upped his game in the final, dropping almost 0.5s to claim 5th place in a time of 28.41s. Ryan also dropped his 100m breaststroke PB to 1.12.11. If day one had proven successful, day two would prove sensational for both Ryan and the team as a whole. In the 100m backstroke, after qualifying strongly for the final in a new PB of 1:01.41 Ryan improved his time by another 2s, smashing the 60s barrier along the way, and taking gold, becoming British 14yr backstroke champion in a time of 59.85s, a truly stunning performance. Ryan also competed in the 50m and 100m freestyle, the 200m IM, and the 200m backstroke but it was the 200m breaststroke that provided more headlines. Dropping his PB by an incredible 4s, Ryan qualified for the final in a time of 2:33.86, improving by over 2s again in the final to finish a tremendous 6th place in a time of 2:31.04, during which he managed to set not one, but 3 PBs, the 50m, 100m, and 200m breaststroke.
Qualifying for his first British Nationals, 14yr old Adam Strickland, performed exceptionally in the 200m fly, matching his previous best, Adam finished 17th in a time of 2:20.63.
Completing the British Nationals trio was 16yr old Sarah Wright, who qualified in the 50m butterfly. Sarah acquitted herself admirably finishing a fantastic 16th in a time of 29.12s. More would come the following week.
Congratulations to all three athletes.
Swim England National Meet
Joining Ryan, Adam, and Sarah at Swim England Nationals were 16yr old breaststroke specialists, Zoe Price and Sarah March, 13 yr old multi-eventer Adam Barrett, and 13yr old flyer Ellie Houghton.
16yr old Sarah March completed a breakout season by qualifying for her first English Nationals in all three breaststroke events. After strong efforts in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke, where she finished 12th and 16th respectively, Sarah then excelled in the 50m breaststroke, qualifying for the final in a time of 35.29s. Joining her in the final, and giving Team GAW two national finalists in one event, 16yr old Zoe Price produced a fantastic heat swim to lower her lifetime best in the event to 34.81s. In the final Sarah produced a great swim to finish just outside the medals in 5th place with a new lifetime best of 34.90s, with Zoe producing another solid swim to finish the final in 7th position.
14yr old Adam Barrett had an extremely busy week, qualifying for five events. Adam kicked of his championships with a new 400m IM PB of 5:04.41, qualifying for his first national final, finishing in 10th place. After solid efforts in the 200m IM and 200m butterfly, Adam saved his best performance for the last day of competition. Adam produced a personal best time of 2:20.89 in his 200m backstroke heat to comfortably qualify for the final. He then lowered his best time again to produce a blistering swim of 2:18.6, finishing in 5th place.
13yr old Ellie Houghton, qualifying for her first national competition, performed well in the 50m butterfly to finish in an extremely promising 14th position. A great place to build on for next season.
Sarah Wright returned to action in the 50m backstroke, producing a fantastic heat swim of 30.94 (a new PB) to qualify for the final. Sarah stepped up again in the final, smashing another lifetime best to claim the bronze medal in a time of 30.65s. A great first national medal.
14yr old Adam Strickland returned for his second week, qualifying in both the 100m fly and 400m freestyle. Adam produced a fantastic first swim of the week, smashing his 100m fly PB to record a new mark of 1:04.09, finishing in 12th position in the process. On the last day of competition, Adam produced a superb, heat winning performance in the 400m freestyle, lowering his best time by 4s to 4:25.28. He returned for the final and subsequently produced another lifetime best, finishing agonisingly just outside the medals in 4th place, with a time of 4:23.15.
Joining Adam in the 400m final, and returning from a week’s hibernation was 14yr old Ryan Zhao. Ryan dropped 6s off his PB to record a time of 4:21.12 in his heat, giving him a middle lane in the final. In the final, along with Adam, Ryan produced a scintillating performance to again lower his lifetime best to 4:18.15, just missing out on the gold, but claiming a magnificent Swim England silver medal.
Well done to all involved.