Blue Fins battle to best position ever

Bicester Blue Fins junior squad at Hillingdon pool with Head Coach Struan McNeil (L) and officials
Bicester Blue Fins junior squad at Hillingdon pool with Head Coach Struan McNeil (L) and officials

Following their best ever start to the first division of the 2014 Milton Keynes & District Junior League last month, the second round gala saw Bicester’s juniors compete against Hillingdon A, the reigning champions and one of the best squads in the country.

The Bicester Village sponsored squad was also up against stiff opposition from Teddington, Chalfont, Hillingdon B and Harrow in the 49-race event at Hillingdon’s pool in West London.

Following back-to-back individual wins in the first gala, 11-year-old Lottie Wynne-Jones was again in fine form to repeat the achievement in the 50m backstroke and 50m butterfly, breaking club age group records in both. She also swam up an age category in the 12-year-old 50m backstroke and came third against girls nearly two years older.

Fellow 11-year-old Freddie Ashley-Sparks also broke the club age group record in the boy’s 50m freestyle on his way to a first place. He was then second in the 50m butterfly, while Maddy Powell won the 10-year-old 50m butterfly and was second in the beaststroke.

Bicester’s fifth win came from youngster Freddy Bunce, who stormed to victory in the 25m backstroke, two seconds clear of his nearest rival.

There were other notable performances from Cameron Digman, who was second in the 50m freestyle, and Edward Davis, who claimed third in the 25m Breaststroke.

In tough 4x25m relay events, the standout performances came from the 11-year girls team of Alex Pluckrose, Maddy Powell, Lottie Wynne-Jones and Eveena Shah after they finished second in both the freestyle and medley races.The boys equivalent team of Freddie Ashley-Sparks, Tom Whitley, Ryan McKenzie and Matty Thornley also finished second in the freestyle relay.

The final event was the 8x25m canon freestyle relay comprising the fastest boy and girl swimmers from the four age categories. After a thrilling race, the Blue Fins team of Charlotte Kemp, Edward Davis, Maddy Powell, Tom Whitley, Lottie Wynne-Jones, Freddie Ashley-Sparks, Melissa White and Ethan Cavill finished a deserved third.

The final results were: 1. Hillingdon A; 2. Teddington; 3. Bicester; 4. Chalfont Otters; 5. Hillingdon B; 6. Harrow. The performance moved Bicester from sixth to fifth in the table and ensured the squad qualified for the final gala of the top six teams in the league – their best position ever.

Head coach Struan McNeil said: “This was a tough gala against two of the best clubs in the region, Hillingdon is one of the best in the country. Our swimmers responded to the challenge, and to finish third and qualify for the final gala of the top six clubs is our best ever performance in this league.

“This squad goes from strength to strength, growing in both achievement and confidence.”

The third and final round of this year’s league takes place on September 13 at Oxford’s Temple Cowley Pool.