Dorset duo book tickets to Sheffield

SEAGULLS’ Grace Kingsley and Poole’s Georga Harrison added their names to the growing band of Dorset swimmers heading for next month’s national age group and youth championships.

Kingsley was a truly amazing Grace as she knocked 21 seconds off her 200m backstroke PB from three months ago to book her ticket to Sheffield.

The 12-year-old also improved her regional ranking from 18th to fourth as she recorded 2:34.34 in the heats at the South West Age Group Championships at Millfield.

That was 0.02sec outside her target time for the nationals but in the final she dropped to 2:34.27.

“What impressed me most was her decision to also compete in the 400m freestyle (in the same session) in which she lowered her PB by 15 seconds,” said Seagulls head coach Barry Alldrick, who has been working to improve Kingsley’s backstroke technique.

“Due to a naturally high stroke-count, she did have a noticeable ‘backstroker’s bounce’. By working on lengthening the leg-kick, the final section of the underwater arms and head stability, mixed with Grace’s gritty determination in tough sets, we have generated an effective stroke.”

Christian Tai claimed his third, fourth and fifth gold medals of the championships as he won the 11yrs 100 and 200m butterfly in 1:13.95, a club record, and 2:42.82 and a 400m freestyle in which he overtook his rivals in the closing stages (5:00.38).

He also took bronze in the 200m breaststroke (3:14.44).

Stella Cookson won the 11yrs 200m breaststroke by seven seconds in 2:58.24.

Tai and Cookson were also third in the Bagcats table.

Thirteen-year-olds Zak Aitchison and Andrew Botros each picked up a silver medal, Aitchison in the 13yrs 200m breaststroke (2:40.92), Botros in the 200m butterfly in 2:26.34.

The medals helped Seagulls and their Bournemouth Collegiate School associates to sixth in the unofficial medals table, succeeding Poole as the top Dorset club with six gold, five silver and seven bronze.

Poole were 11th in that table with four gold, four silver and 12 bronze with Swim Bournemouth 21st with five silver and four bronze.

But Poole look set to have more national qualifiers than all Dorset’s other clubs put together after Georga Harrison became their 14th individual qualifier and the 18th including relay swimmers.

Harrison knocked four seconds off her 100m butterfly PB to claim a bronze medal in the 12yrs final at Millfield. Then, she slashed five seconds off her 200m fly time to double her Sheffield programme with a bronze-winning 2:35.54.

Alan Wong’s gold-winning 2:15.64 in the 14yrs 200m backstroke broke a club record, improved his national qualifying time by three seconds and took him to seventh in the national rankings for his age group.

Harry Kemp doubled his nationals programme with a PB of 2:31.54.

Jacob Peters added a medal of each colour to his regional tally, taking gold, silver and bronze, respectively, in the 11yrs 200m backstroke 200m butterfly and 100m fly (2:38.59, 2:49.40 and 1:15.75).

The backstroke time was a club record.

Maddy Kemp also set a club record as she won silver in the 13yrs 100m freestyle (1:01.04) before adding a bronze in the 100m butterfly (1:08.67).

Bronze also went to fellow national qualifiers Jasmine Holmes in the 13yrs 400m freestyle (4:36.12) and Henry Bramwell-Reeks in the 12yrs 200m backstroke (2:31.59).

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