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Swimming: Poole pipped in Sheffield finals bid
POOLE ended their first Premier Division final as the fourth best team in the South West and South Wales as Dorset’s top five ended the league season with honours all round.
But neither Poole nor Swim Bournemouth, who exceeded their own expectations to finish sixth in the National Arena League’s Western Premier Division final, will make it to April’s national finals in Sheffield.
The Dorset clubs respectively came 21st and 25th in the “virtual” gala between the top six teams from each of the seven regional leagues across England and Wales.
While the three teams above them in the West all qualified, Poole missed the cut by three places and just 18 virtual gala points from a possible 2,100. Bournemouth missed out by seven places and 172 points.
Among the Dorset clubs’ opponents in the final, former national champions Plymouth Leander and Millfield respectively finished first and fifth in the virtual gala while 2010 B final champions City of Cardiff – whose team included Olympic double medallist David Davies and Olympian-in-waiting Ieuan Lloyd – were 12th.
Poole ended the final in fourth place but dropped to fifth after a points deduction for using a swimmer three times in one age group. The deduction did not affect their fourth place in the league table, however.
Coach Robin Armayan said: “There was an unfortunate mix-up over team sheets but we didn’t try to hide it and informed the league secretary after the final.”
Three other clubs subsequently complained.
Armayan added: “I’m disappointed we didn’t make the national B final but to finish fifth in our first-ever Premier Division final and fourth in the league is an outstanding result.
“Racing some of the best clubs in the country is mentally difficult and the pressure is constant but our swimmers gave everything and never gave up.”
As expected, the 11/u boys’ events provided a thrilling sideshow for Dorset spectators with Poole dropping only two of the 48 available points and Swim Bournemouth only eight.
In fact this age group provided five of Poole’s six race wins with Jacob Peters taking the 11/u 50m backstroke and butterfly in 35.43 and 33.93, Harry Kemp the 50m freestyle (30.08) and these two plus Kelvin Wong and Lewis Harding the medley and freestyle relays.
In the freestyle Kemp produced a thrilling anchor leg to snatch the win by 0.18sec. Poole’s other winner was Maddy Kemp in the 13/u 100m butterfly (1:07.62).
Second places came from Maddy Kemp (13/u 100m breast), Georga Harrison (11/u 50m free), Jasmine Holmes (13/u 100m free), Dan Speers (15/u 100m free), the boys’ 15/u freestyle and medley teams of Speers, Noah Vides, Todd Price and Daniel Monk and the 13/u girls’ freestyle team of Kemp, Holmes, Sophie Eaton and Jade Norman.
• Swim Bournemouth followed up the impressive second round result that earned them a place in the final with an even better showing to move up two more places from their ranking.
The outcome almost matched their 2010 result when they came fifth in the final, fourth in the table and 26th in the virtual gala.
Coach Emma Hirst said: “At the start of the season we didn’t dream of even being in the final so sixth is a huge achievement.”
Jack Simpkins was Bournemouth’s only race winner, recording the only sub 60-second time in the 13/u 50m freestyle (59.55).
The 11/u quartet of Matthew Collins, Chris Parsons-Lowey, Ethan Bell and Ben Samuel achieved four of Bournemouth’s six second places, coming second to Poole in both relays with Collins also second in the 50m backstroke (35.63) and Bell in the breaststroke (39.95).
Also second were 13/u and 15/u 100m breaststrokers Ben Wickens (1:20.13) and Dorset record holder Jack Burton, whose time of 1:10.40 split the 2011 national age group gold and silver medallists in this event, Rio Kurihara of Millfield (1:0979) and Poole’s Noah Vides (1:10.62).