Bicester Blue Fins are the county’s top club

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Bicester’s older junior swimmers travelled to Crawley’s K2 olympic-sized pool for the final weekend of the 2015 ASA South East Region Championships.

The competition centred on the age 15, 16 and 17/over age categories, with national championship qualification on the minds of swimmers as well as silverware.

The small Bicester club achieved more top medals than any other club in Oxfordshire and North Buckinghamshire, even eclipsing the current county champions City of Oxford.

They finished the three gruelling weekends of stiff regional competition in fifth place overall, with a haul of 15 gold, eight silver and three bronze medals.

Leading the Blue Fins medal charge at Crawley last weekend and competing in the age 16 category was Kieran Bird, who won four golds to add to the silver he claimed in the long distance events.

Kieran’s first place in the 200m individual medley in 2.12.81mins was an overall Bicester club record. He also achieved successes in the 100m and 200m butterfly, and 200m freestyle events before setting new age group club records in the 100m freestyle and 100m breaststroke.

Competing in the same age category, the highly talented Tom Thornley was another medal winner as he won silvers in the 50m and 100m backstroke, while Sinead Vine-Nealon demonstrated her growing confidence in the age 15 category by recording new club age group records for the 100m and 200m distances.

Elsewhere, Ellie Falkner notched a new club age group record in the 200m freestyle and 200m IM, and qualified for the final of the 200m butterfly.

Among the other impressive performances was 15-year-old Josh Rowland, who blitzed his previous personal bests across four events, finishing 5th in the finals of the 50m and 100m freestyle, while breaststroke specialist Joe Walker competed in the tough 17 and over category, with the highlight of his championships being a new club age group record in the 200m discipline.

Sprinter Courtney Best qualified for the final of the age 16 50m freestyle, where she was just two hundredths of a second off the overall club record.

Bicester head coach Struan McNeil said afterwards: “Based on this golden performance it’s hard to believe that it’s only two years since Bicester won its first ever regional swimming medal.

“Coming in the middle of a tough and unrested training programme, for our swimmers to beat their personal bests, rewrite the club record book and achieve more medals than our local city rivals is quite remarkable.

“There’s no let up though as our attention now switches to preparing members of the performance squad for the national championships in July and August.”