Four of Bicester Blue Fins’ most talented youngsters had their chances to test themselves against the best swimmers in the south of England at the ASA South Zonals Championships last weekend.
Held at the impressive London Aquatics Centre, home to the swimming events at the 2012 Olympics, Kieran Bird, Tom Thornley, Lottie Wynne-Jones and Ellie Falkner earned a place at the championships covering the three south regions – south east, south west and London – by achieving the tough qualifying times.
In the age 16 and under category, 15-year-old Kieran Bird again showed the competition why he’s one of the hottest talents around. He was in blistering form to win gold in the 200m butterfly final in a Bicester age group record time of 2.09.62mins.
In the 100m butterfly, Kieran’s 59.40secs effort was also a club age group record to secure a bronze, which he then followed up with another bronze in the gruelling 1,500m freestyle in 17.02.16mins.
Fellow 15-year-old Tom Thorney continued his good recent form as he broke the county record twice on his way to finishing fourth in the 50m backstroke in a time of 28.21 before winning silver in the 200m backstroke final. He also set new club age group records in the 100m backstroke (1.00.48) and the 100m freestyle (55.74).
Eleven-year-old Lottie Wynne-Jones impressed the watching crowd as the youngest competitor in the whole event, swimming in the age 14 and under category. In the 100m butterfly, her scintillating 1.08.48 in the heat was the fastest ever swim for a girl her age in the county by three seconds and only a fraction shy of the South East regional record. She also rocketed up the UK rankings to current number one for this event.
Lottie’s 2.35.18 in the 200m butterfly was another county best time by five seconds and was also a club age group record, earning her a place in a tough final against girls in some cases three years older. She also sliced eight seconds off her own club age group record in recording 2.35.99 in the 200m backstroke, which was again a best-ever county time for a girl her age.
Ellie Falkner qualified for the tough 800m freestyle. The 15-year-old swam a personal best that was also a new overall club record of 9.34.55 and finished seventh overall.
Blue Fins head coach Struan McNeil said: “The Zonals Championships sit between Regional and English Nationals and are a good early season test in an Olympic-sized pool.
“Despite coming into this unrested as we build their training programmes for the bigger national competitions later in the season, Kieran, Tom, Ellie and Lottie swam great. Their preparation, focus and determination were top notch and I’m pleased with what they achieved against some hot competition from the big city clubs in the region.
“Little Bicester continues to show the other big squads that we’re a force to be reckoned with!”