County Championships 2013 - By Bethan Newland-Smith

Over the last two months Didcot Barramundi Swimmers have been competing in the most competitive gala of the year, Oxfordshire and North Buckinghamshire County Championships. To qualify for counties was hard enough with our county having some of the highest county times in the South East. But, being resilient, our ever-growing county squad performed to perfection with medals and BagCat trophies throughout every age group.

Counties started in February (Sunday 10th and Sunday 17th) with long distance swimming. Long distance is all about stamina, pacing and technique and includes the 400m, 800m and 1500m events. We had ten swimmers ranging from age 10-16 swimming, these swimmers were: Alfie Baum, Bethan Newland-Smith, Daniel Amphlett, Dom Ward, Edward Burrows, Freddie Wilkinson, Michael Fabes, Ollie Beard, Ollie Ripley and Ricky Martin. The following people are podium winners: Danny Amphlett 3rd 400IM, Edward Burrows 1st 400IM and 3rd 400free, Ollie Ripley 2nd 400IM and 2nd 400free, Alfie Baum 2nd 400free, Freddie Wilkinson 2rd 400IM and Ollie Beard 3rd 400IM and 3rd 400free. Well done to all the long distance swimmers and congratulations for qualifying and representing our club!

In the afternoon of both these Sundays the 4x50m relays took part. Relays are swam as four individual medley swimmers each doing one stroke or four swimmers all doing freestyle. They are highly competitive but once again this didn’t stop Didcot Barramundi swimmers. Firstly it was the boy’s relays took place: with the 9-10year olds getting 6th in IM and 4th in free; our 11-12 year olds (A team) got 4th in IM and 7th in Free while the B team got 15th place in both and our 13-14year old A getting 3rd in both IM and free while the B got two 11th places. This was an amazing result with some larger clubs entering up to four teams into the relays. Next were the girl’s relays where the 9-10year olds got 8th in IM and 10th in free, 11-12year olds got 20th in IM and the 13-14year olds got 6th in IM and 7th in free. Well done to all of the 32 relays swimmers.

Finally the last two weekends (9th-10th and 16th-17th) are individual events. These are all 50m, 100m or 200m long. While 200m have heat declared winners, 50m and 100m races have heats then the top eight from each age group go against each other in a final for the medals. These two weekends are a battle of endurance as you can be doing up to four events with a final on top. Everyone wants to do well and everyone has deal with pressure. All of the following swimmers competed at counties in individual events: Ben Newell(9) 5+ medals, Christopher Sims 1 medal(9),  Jack Mason(9) 1 medal, Alfie Baum(10) 3+ medals, Nathan Shayler(10), Freddie Wilkinson(11) 15 medals, Ollie mew(11), Dominic Ward(12) 3+ medals, Matthew Millard(12), Ollie Beard(13) 3+ Medals, Alec Purvis (13), Oliver Ripley(14) 15medals, Ricky Martin(13) 5+ medals, Luc Bouet(13), Ryland Hale(13), Edward Burrows(15) 15medals, Danny Amphlett 4+ medals, Jamie Goldstone(16), Isabelle Langley(9) 5 medals, Beth Hickton-Collins(10), Molly Ripley(12), Abby Jones(13), Charlotte Smart(13), Poppy Concannon(14) 9medals and Bethan Newland-Smith(14) 2medals.

In the individual events you also get awards for being top in the juniors’ champions (under 16) and over 16 champions. We had two swimmers who achieved trophies in these categories who are Edward Burrows (15) who won 3rd in 100IM and Jamie Goldstone (16) who won 2nd in 50, 100 and 200 breastroke. This is a very competitive award and both swimmers did amazing to receive them.

Throughout the whole of counties all the places swimmer come are added up and given points, these go towards BagCat awards for the best all-round swimmers. Swimmers that got BagCat awards are: Ben Newell 1st in 9yr old age group, Christopher Sims 5th in 9yr old age group, Jack Mason 7th in 9yr old age group, Alfie Baum 5th in 10yr old age group, Freddie Wilkinson 4th 11yr old age group, Ollie Beard 4th in 13 year old age group, Ollie Ripley 2nd in 14yr old age group, Ricky Martin 8th in 14yr old age group and Isabelle Langley 9yr old age group.

Overall Didcot Barramundi came 6th in the Top Club contest; this is amazing for such a small club as we fight ever rising county times and competitive competition. While most of the four big clubs that beat us have over double the amount of people Didcot has and outnumbered us 5plus to one we still have a Barramundi in almost every final.

Everyone who qualified and competed at counties did amazing with personal bests, medals and regional times all around. While the club moral was perfect, never have Barramundi been so strong and united. Everyone had each other’s support and helped one another. As a club we have proved that we can beat clubs twice our size, we been through every up and down together and get closer every day. Oxfordshire and North Buckinghamshire County Championships have brought out Barramundi’s best in every way possible and I have never been so happy to say I’m part of Didcot Barramundi Swim Club.

Well done to every swimmer and good luck for Regionals!