THIRTY-six swimmers from the Bournemouth-Poole area will be heading for Sheffield over the next two weeks to take on the best age group and youth swimmers in Britain.
Seven of them will be making their debuts at National Age Group or Youth Championships while six are swimming only relay events. Two others have also qualified but Swim Bournemouth’s Ellie Kerslake has withdrawn due to injury while Bournemouth Collegiate School’s (BCS) Alice Tai will be at the IPC European Championships for disability swimmers.
Eighteen of the qualifiers are from Swim Bournemouth, al-though Jay Lelliott and Jack Burton will be representing Bath University and Plymouth Lean-der respectively after returning from international duty.
Poole have 11 swimmers heading for Sheffield as well as Dan Speers, now based at Millfield but training at Poole during the holidays.
BCS have eight qualifiers, two more than last year and their biggest contingent since they launched their swimming academy three years ago.
The age groups start next Wednesday (July 30), the youths on August 5.
BCS qualifiers: L-r Zak Aitchison, Christian Tai, Beth Aitchison, Finn Trehane, Jack Arnell, Alice Tai, Zoe Gannaway, Jamie Holmes.
Poole qualifiers: L-r Emily Clarke, Fiona Hardie, Inez Griffin, Katie Mills, Jacob Peters, Madison Kemp, David Martins, Todd Price, Jasmine Holmes, Noah Vides, Kiran Olenicz, Dan Speers.
BCS SWIMMERS Aitchison, Beth, 17: The England schools champion is targeting finals at her fifth consecutive nationals, where she goes in the 17-18yrs 50, 100 and 200m breaststroke, 50 and 100m freestyle and 200 and 400m individual medley (IM).
Aitchison, Zak, 15: Beth’s brother is also at his fifth nationals and hopes to make finals again despite being in the younger half of a two-year age group. His events are the 50m freestyle and 100 and 200m breaststroke.
Arnell, Jack, 13: As last year, he swims the 100 and 200m backstroke at his second nationals and is hoping to make a final or at least improve last year’s placings.
Gannaway, Zoe, 13: The former Seagull has overcome a foot injury to make her second nationals in the 100, 200, 400 and 800m freestyle – the same programme as last year.
Holmes, Jamie, 17: He celebrates his 17th birthday on August 6 – the day he swims the 100m breaststroke at his third nationals but his first since 2011.
Tai, Alice, 15: The Paralympic hopeful qualified to swim the 50, 100 and 400m freestyle, 100m backstroke and butterfly and 200m IM but will instead be making her IPC European Championships debut in Eindhoven.
Tai, Christian, 13: After making a final on his nationals debut last year, Alice’s brother hopes to do so again after qualifying in the 100 and 200m butterfly.
Trehane, Finn, 12: A year after moving from Swim Bournemouth, he has qualified for nine events at his first age group nationals – the 200, 400 and 1500m freestyle, 100 and 200m breaststroke, 100 and 200m backstroke and 200 and 400m IM. He plans to drop the 200m free and 100m back but is targeting medals in the breaststroke.
POOLE SWIMMERS Clarke, Emily, 16: The Dorset backstroke champion is hoping for better luck this year after illness and injury kept her out of the 2012 nationals and prevented her from qualifying in 2013. She swam only in relays in 2011 but this time goes in the 50 and 200m backstroke, 50m freestyle and 4x100m medley and freestyle relays. Semi-finals are her target.
Griffin, Inez, 17: After the pressure of her nationals debut last year, she is hoping improve her PB as she goes in the 200m breaststroke and 4x100m medley relay.
Hardie, Fiona, 20: The swim scholarship student returns from her second year at university in the US to swim the 50 and 100m freestyle, 50, 100 and 200m butterfly and 200m IM. It’s her eighth year at nationals and she is hoping to make several finals, as she did last year.
Holmes, Jasmine, 15: BCS swimmer Jamie’s sister is attending her fifth consecutive nationals for the 200m freestyle and the 4x100m freestyle and medley relays. A semi-final is her target for the 200.
Kemp, Madison, 16: Finals as well as PBs are a target the versatile Kemp, who swims the 50 and 100m freestyle, 50 and 100m butterfly, 50m breaststroke and medley and freestyle relays at her fourth nationals.
Martins, David, 18: Poole’s boys’ captain will anchor the 4x100m medley team in Sheffield at his first nationals. ‘It’s my proudest moment ever – I’ve never been so happy,’ he said after learning of his selection.
‘It makes all the hard work worthwhile.’ Mills, Katie, 18: The girls’ captain attends her third nationals after the 4x100m freestyle team was promoted from first reserve to competitors proper.
Olenicz, Kiran, 15: The backstroker is attending his third nationals but his first at youth level for the medley relay.
Peters, Jacob, 13: Has qualified for nine events at his second age group nationals and should be in the hunt for medals after narrowly missing out last year. His events are the 100m and 200m freestyle, 100 and 200m backstroke, 100 and 200m butterfly and 200 and 400m IM, though he plans to drop the 400m.
Price, Todd, 17: Price is targeting semi-finals at his seventh consecutive nationals, where he swims the 100 and 200m butterfly and 400m IM. He and Noah Vides are veterans of Poole’s gold-winning medley team at the 2011 age groups.
Speers, Dan, 17: The British junior 50m freestyle silver medallist and veteran of Poole’s 2011 gold-winning medley team swims the 50 and 100m freestyle and relays for Millfield, where he is now based.
Vides, Noah, 17: The breaststroker hopes to make the 100m breaststroke final at his seventh consecutive nationals.
He won relay gold and individual silver for Poole in his last age group nationals three years ago but medals are probably beyond his reach in the two-year age band at the youth event.