BEST of friends Amelia Maughan and Courtney Rowan became the best of rivals at the England Schools Championships at Crystal Palace.

The 13-year-olds emerged with gold and silver medals three times over after representing the Division Five and Division 12 regions respectively.

Both are members of Bournemouth Dolphins but the showdown came about following Maughan’s recent move to Millfield School in Somerset, which puts her in a different schools region.

The European Youth Olympics champion made an immediate impact on the competition, breaking the championship record with a heat time of 59.05 in the junior girls’ 100m freestyle.

Rowan, herself a national age group bronze medallist, qualified second fastest for the final in 1:00.57.

Both girls swam slightly slower in the final but their times of 59.11 and 1:00.92 were comfortably good enough to take first and second places.

There was another head-to-head in the 4x50m medley relay with Maughan anchoring the Division Five team to victory in heats and final and Rowan anchoring Division 12 to second place both times.

They met yet again in the freestyle relay, although this time Maughan led off her winning team while Rowan again anchored Division 12 to second place.

That was at the weekend. By Monday the girls were training together at Littledown and Maughan was staying with her friend’s family for half-term.

Maughan said: “Courtney is my best friend and it was really weird to be swimming against her.

“I almost burst out laughing but I was also scared because I thought she could beat me.”

Rowan said: “If I have to come second to anyone, I’d rather it was Amelia.

“I miss her a lot since she’s been at Millfield – although it is quieter here now!”

Reminded that they are likely to face another head-to-head at the National Arena League West final in December, Rowan said: “Bring it on!”

All seven Dorset swimmers in the Division 12 team ended up with at least one medal.

Breaststrokers Naomi Vides and Fran Hughes respectively won silver and bronze in the intermediate and senior 100m events in 1:15.42 and 1:16.55 and bronze and silver in the medley relays.

In-form Martin Littlefair won silver in the senior 100m freestyle in a long-course PB of 53.05.

Bronze also went to Joe Poynter in the intermediate boys’ 200m individual medley (2:13.31) and Tom Mules in the junior 100m butterfly (1:02.13).

Harry Thorpe was sixth in the junior 100m backstroke (1:10.38) but he, Craig Freeman, Mules, Poynter and Littlefair also won relay medals.

Division 12, which comprises Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex and the Channel Islands, achieved their best-ever result in the national schools event – second behind Division Five, whose schools include Millfield, Kelly College and Plymouth College, whose swimming scholarships attract swimmers from across the country and abroad.

Top three: 1 Division 5 281, 2 Division 12 221, 3 Division 1 197.