SWIM Bournemouth have regained the Southern Junior League title they last won in 2014 – but not before a titanic battle with neighbours Poole.

Just eight points separated the two Dorset clubs after the 49-race final at Horfield, Bristol and at times the gap narrowed to four points.

The win automatically qualifies Swim Bournemouth for next month’s national semi-final against other junior league champions, where four places in the national final in November will also be on offer.

Coach Sam Woodward said: “Finishing third behind Plymouth and Poole in 2016 was a bitter pill to swallow, especially after beating Poole in rounds one and two.

“This year we worked hard to avoid disqualifications and nail down our race skills and it was mission accomplished.

“I am so proud of this group of swimmers.”

Halle Harris was Swim Bournemouth’s top scorer, winning the 50m freestyle and backstroke in her own 9yrs age group, then stepping up to win the 10/u 50m butterfly just two races after the backstroke.

Freddie Hodgetts followed her to the starting block three times and almost matched her results, winning the boys’ 9yrs freestyle and backstroke and coming second in the 10/u butterfly.

Other individual wins came from 10/u swimmers Eva Harrigan (breaststroke), Jamie Workman (backstroke) and Georgina Hawkins (freestyle) and Ella Brown in the 11/u 50m breaststroke.

Poole matched their club-best second place from 2016 but this time by a narrower margin.

“This is a fantastic performance for a small club like ours,” said coach Jan Hutchings.

“Four or five years ago we were finishing seventh or eighth. We are punching above our weight.”

She added: “One swimmer travelled from France to swim, which is fantastic commitment.”

Robbie Hemmings and Lara Johnston-Trow scored a “double double” for Poole, winning the boys’ and girls’ 12/u 50m butterfly and freestyle, respectively.

Max Looker was also a double winner in the 11/u backstroke and butterfly.

Other individual winners were Lauren Corn (12/u fly), Charlie Meek (11/u freestyle), Liam Duffy (11/u breaststroke) and Aimie Quarrie (12/u backstroke).

Result: 1 Swim Bournemouth A 222, 2 Poole 214, 3 SX3 Swindon 184, 4 Keynsham 153, 5 Cirencester 131, 6 Swindon Dolphins 118.

Seven wins and 12 second places earned Swim Bournemouth’s B team fourth place in the B final, also at Horfield.

Christchurch Seagulls were also scheduled to swim but withdrew.

Result: 1 Trowbridge 204, 2 Severnside Tritons 203, 3 Bristol Penguins 199, 4 Swim Bournemouth B 188, 5 Bath Dolphins 176. DNS: Seagulls.