SWIM Bournemouth will be the only Dorset team in next month’s National Arena League West Premier Division final following a fine second place at Newport.
They were beaten in their second round gala only by national champions Plymouth Leander, whose team included Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte.
Coach Emma Richards said: “This was a fantastic result which highlights the huge progress Swim Bournemouth has made over the past two years.”
Bournemouth’s three winners were Katy Hebditch in the 13/u 100m breaststroke, Ben Samuel in the 11/u 50m freestyle and the girls’ 11/u freestyle relay team.
The team also registered 19 second places and 14 thirds and were out of the top three only 14 times in 50 events.
Promoted Seagulls look set for a mid-table finish in their debut season in the Premier Division after fourth place at Weston-super-Mare, where their opponents included Exeter’s world champion backstroker and Olympic finalist Liam Tancock.
Winners in this company proved elusive but second places came from Grace Kingsley in the 13/u 100m backstroke (1:11.75), Beth Aitchison in the women’s 100m breaststroke (1:17.55) and Christian Tai in the 11/u 50m butterfly (33.21).
Coach Glenn Bailey said: “We knew it was going to be tough among an array of internationals but a mid-table finish is a result we can be proud of.”
Poole kept alive their hopes of staying in the Premier Division with third place at Keynsham.
A relegation scrap was inevitable after their no-show in round one due to a spate of injury and illness, which meant they started round two with minus three league points.
But coach Robin Armayan said: “It was good to be back in the league with a proper team. If we do well in round three. I think we could stay in the division. That’s a challenging target and we are looking forward to it.”
Dan Speers featured in four wins, taking the 15/u 100m freestyle in 56.69 and the breaststroke in 1:10.63 and joining team-mates in two relays.
Harry Kemp and Todd Price both broke club records.
Premier Division results at Newport: 1 Plymouth Leander 278, 2 Swim Bournemouth 205, 3 Bridgend 168, 4 Nofio Sir Gar 160, 5 Newport 136, 6 Bath 99.
At Weston: 1 Taunton Deane 259, 2 Millfield 245, 3 Exeter City 178, 4 Seagulls 135, 5 Weston-super-Mare 129, 6 City of Cardiff B 98.
At Keynsham: 1 City of Cardiff 213, 2 Swim Swansea 205, 3 Poole 161, 4 Soundwell 160, 5 Keynsham 155, 6 West Wilts Force 5 139.