The 2023 Swim England East Region Short Course Championships took place in Luton from the 3rd to the 5th November with a strong West Norfolk contingent in attendance.
Competition began on the Friday evening with Esmie Kidman swimming a season’s best time in the Women’s 800 Metre Freestyle.
Come Saturday morning, Freddie Laws and Nathan and Joseph Wells were first in the pool for the Men’s 200M Individual Medley.
Laws and Joseph Wells both put in season’s best performances whilst Nathan Wells progressed through to the final were he narrowly edged out the City of Norwich’s Oliver Vedrenne to take victory and with it his first gold medal of the championships.
The Men’s 50M Freestyle saw a personal best swim from Rhys Burrell as well as season’s best times for Tom Garnett; Nedas Tkacenko; Robert Addis; Joseph Wells; Finlay Ryan and Tobias Oglesby.
Club Captain Harvey Isle and his Vice Captain Daniel Grimmer then took on the gruelling 200M Butterfly before attention turned to the Men’s and Women’s 100M Breaststroke events.
Molly Lee and Sarah O’Brien both swam season’s best times in the Women’s event, with O’Brien progressing through to the final where she placed sixth.
Burrell and Laws also both swam season’s best times in the men’s heats, with Laws progressing through to the final alongside Finlay Ryan.
The pair would go on to place third and fourth – with Laws picking up his first and West Norfolk’s second medal of the day.
Lee and O’Brien were once again in action together in the Women’s 100M IM, both swimming season’s bests and the later progressing through to the final.
Oglesby swam a new personal best time in the Men’s 100M Backstroke, the same event seeing Nathan Wella make the final and win himself a silver medal.
Millie Harris then took on the Women’s 100M Freestyle, setting a new personal best, before Grimmer took to the pool for the Men’s 200M Freestyle.
West Norfolk were well represented in the 50M Butterfly.
O’Brien set a season’s best in the Women’s heats, whilst Harris swam yet another Personal Best.
The Men’s event was contested by Grimmer; Burrell; Addis; Joseph Wells and Oglesby – with Addis and Wells setting season’s best times and Oglesby records a new personal best.
Erin Woodrow and Chloe Bellamy rounded out Saturday for West Norfolk, both swimming in the Women’s 200M Backstroke.
Sunday’s opening event, the Men’s 50M Backstroke saw Oglesby set a new personal best time whilst Addis and Nathan Wells set season’s best times – with the later joining Oglesby in qualifying for the final.
Come the final Oglesby set yet another personal time, missing out a medal by only twelve hundredths of a second whilst Wells found himself just one tenth of a second from victory, ultimately having to settle for silver.
The Women’s 50M Freestyle saw a season’s best time from O’Brien and personal bests from Harris and Woodrow.
The Men’s 200M Breaststroke saw another personal best time of the weekend for Rhys Burrell whilst Freddie Laws sent himself into the final with a season’s best swim – which he duly went and beat by a further four seconds in the final to take the bronze medal.
O’Brien was in action once again in the Women’s event, qualifying for the final with a season’s best swim where she finished eighth.
The Men’s 100M Individual Medley saw a flurry of season’s bests for West Norfolk from Grimmer; Addis and both Wells Brothers, whilst Freddie Laws set a personal best.
The final saw Laws set a personal best yet again en route to finishing fourth, whilst Nathan Wells gave it his all to take a closely fought victory to take the regional title in a time of 56.86 seconds – a presumed Norfolk Record.
Wells also took victory in the Men’s 400 IM to complete a clean sweep of short course regional medley titles for the second year in succession.
The same event also saw Harvey Isle set a season’s best time of 5 minutes 10.57 seconds.
There were further season’s bests in the 100M Freestyle courtesy of Addis and Joseph Wells – whilst Oglesby set a personal best to book a place in the final where he finished fifth.
The Men’s 50M Breaststroke Freddie Laws and Finlay Ryan send themselves through to the final – where a close race between the two saw Ryan edge out his teammate to win a bronze medal.
Olivia Skittrell and Pemberley Hornigold had their first swims of the weekend in the Women’s 5 Breaststroke with the former setting a season’s best and the latter a personal best. O’Brien and Lee were also in action in the event, with Lee replicating Skittrell’s achievement of a season’s best swim.
Finally, the 200M Backstroke saw season’s bests from Isle, Grimmer and Nathan Yeaman – whilst Nathan Wells secured one last finals spot of the weekend ahead of a seventh place finish.
Head Coach Sarah Vanderloo was thrilled with her team’s performance across the weekend – highlighting a seventh place finish out of thirty five in the standings for “Top Club” despite not contesting the relay events.
Vanderloo took centre stage herself as the weekend drew to a close, being presented with the Swim England East Region Swimming Coach of the Year Award for 2023 – a thoroughly deserved achievement which also sees her become a finalist for the national award being handed out on the 18th November.