Bicester Blue Fins swimmers were presented with the chance to show off their potential when the ASA South East Regional Championships got underway at Crawley and Portsmouth.
The event pitted Bicester’s small but talented squad against the best swimmers from Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey, Hampshire, Sussex and Kent.
Bicester made an excellent start to the campaign by winning 11 gold medals, more than the club’s much larger local rivals from Oxford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury’s Maxwell.
The club have already matched the total golds won last year and look likely to smash this previous best.
Swimming in the age 11/12 category, Lottie Wynne-Jones was in exceptional form once again, winning all 11 of the club’s gold medals, several by considerable margins.
In a sign of dominance across the board rarely seen in competition at this level, she won more regional championship titles than any other swimmer from all clubs at the event across all age groups.
Her three outstanding wins in the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly were not only overall club records, but, subject to ratification by the ASA authorities, also South East Regional age group records.
In addition, she is claiming regional all-time best times in the 50m and 100m backstroke through victorious swims that were club age group records.
Lottie’s 200m backstroke and 400m individual medley wins were also overall Bicester records, and the first places she achieved in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle were age group records.
In her 13th event, the 50m freestyle, she broke her own club age group record and narrowly missed the podium by four hundredths of a second.
Also in the age 11/12 category, Maddy Powell continued her fine season with some gutsy swims in 11 events. In the sprints, she earned PBs in qualifying for four finals, improving all four times further and being rewarded with silver medals in the 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly.
Powell then doubled her silver medal tally in the long distance events with PBs in the 400m medley and freestyle, followed by a bronze medal in the 800m freestyle.
Swimming in the age 13 category, Tabitha Watkins a swam well in the heats of seven events, qualifying for all the finals, as she won a silver medal in the 50m breaststroke plus bronzes in the 200m breaststroke and 200m backstroke - both in Bicester club records.
Kieran Bird got his 2015 championships off to a good start in the grueling 1,500m freestyle event. In the age 16 category, he recorded the overall Bicester club record of 16.21.18mins to win silver.
In the age 14 category, breaststroke specialist William Whitley earned the club age group record in the heats of both the 100m and 200m events, then broke the 100m mark again in the final.
Bicester’s other 14-year-old swimmer Oliver Inness worked hard to obtain PBs in most of his seven events and qualified for several finals, while another highlight was achieved by 11-year-old Christopher Littleton, who swam a superb 50m butterfly heat to slice six seconds off the previous club age group record.
Bicester secured entries in the relay events for the first time in the club’s 65-year history. The girls 14-16 squad of Ellie Falkner, Neve Gascoyne, Sinead Vine-Nealon and Chloe Wanless recorded two club records in the 4x100m medley and freestyle. The boys 14-16 squad matched this achievement, with two club records in the 4x100m medley and 4x200m freestyle for Kieran Bird, Callum Laird, Josh Rowland and William Whitley.
Narrowly missing out on a medal was an in-form Josh Rowland, finishing fourth in the age 15 1,500m. He also swam a personal best in the 400m freestyle. Ellie Falkner also had a big swim in the 800m freestyle, just one second off the overall Bicester club record in finishing sixth.
Twelve-year-old Freddie Ashley-Sparks was another to swim well despite having only just recovered from injury.
The results mean the club are lying second in the regional medal tally of 30 clubs.
Blue Fins head coach Struan McNeil said: ‘This was a very strong performance. To compete at this level demands focus and hard work during many months of tough training, so to step up to the challenge in front of a capacity crowd is testament to their maturity and talent.
“Our swimmers broke many personal bests, 29 club and five regional records, and Lottie also set a new British best time for her age in the 50m butterfly. As a result several will find themselves competing at this year’s national championships in August.”