Thornley leads the Bicester charge

editorial image

Following success at the Oxfordshire & North Bucks County Swimming Championships, five older Bicester Blue Fins swimmers had their chance to show off their potential among the best in the region at the South East Regional Championships.

The youth category took place at Crawley and Guildford over the three days of May Bank Holiday weekend, and the Bicester club again punched above its weight by claiming six golds, five silvers and four bronzes.

Fourteen-year-old Tom Thornley proved to the region why he’s considered one of the best talents around by winning four golds in the 50m freestyle and the 50m,100m and 200m backstroke. He also won three silvers.

Fellow 14-year-old Kieran Bird demonstrated his 100m and 200m butterfly prowess with a gold in each. He also picked up a silver and bronze and was crowned the overall best swimmer in his age group, calculated on points won across a defined number of events. Thornley was overall runner-up.

In the 14-year-old girls category, Ellie Falkner was on fine form as she collected a silver in the 800m freestyle and a bronze in the 400m freestyle.

Competing shortly after his success at the British Championships, 17-year-old Liam O’Brien broke two Bicester club records, while 15-year-old Tom Nolte also swam well to break four Bicester age group club records.

The regional championships are an important step towards qualification for the national youth finals at Sheffield in August. Thornley, Bird and O’Brien have already met the qualifying times.

Head coach Struan McNeil said: “The whole coaching team is pleased with the way these five swimmers stepped-up to this key challenge. We have two of the very best 14-year-old swimmers in the country at our small club with Tom and Kieran, but we’re also proud of Ellie, Liam and Tom Nolte’s performances against the top regional athletes.

“An incredible 20 club records and seven age group records were broken - a sign of the effort all five of these swimmers put in.

“But the job’s not done. We have high hopes for more medals when the younger swimmers have their opportunity in Crawley later this month, plus our focus is turning to training for the national championships in August”

The regional championships resume on May 31 over two weekends, featuring six Bicester swimmers aged 10-13.