Lancashire continue to dominate with a ninth consecutive ‘Intercounties’ title
17 Oct 2010
Lancashire continued their stranglehold on the Division 1 title at the British Gas ASA National County Team Championships, winning for the ninth consecutive year.
The 20 teams in Division 1 and 19 teams in Division 2 created a great day of competition for the ‘Intercounties’ event at Ponds Forge, inspired by Olympians and Commonwealth medallists Ross Davenport and Sarah Price who were deck hosts for the day.
In Division 1, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Middlesex all showed their strength in the first event, the Girls 16/17yrs 100m Freestyle. After the first event Lancashire took the top spot with 20 points, Yorkshire 19 and Middlesex 18 in a mirror of the final results from 2009.
It was Lancashire’s Girls Captain Emma Saunders who took the victory for her county as she turned on the style to take the event in 55.05, way ahead of her Yorkshire rival Anne Bochmann who touched in 56.99. Lauren Turner took third place for Middlesex with 57.28.
Both Saunders and Bochmann have just returned from the Commonwealth Games but it was Saunders who picked up the win to add to her two medals while in Delhi.
“That felt really good,” said Saunders. “I only got back from the Commies yesterday so it was nice seeing everyone. Obviously this is a lot less pressure and it’s now my last event and I get a break until half term so that’s nice.”
Middlesex also briefly took their turn at the top but Yorkshire kept up their challenge for the title with some strong performances, including Bochmann’s win in the Girls 16/17yrs 100m Butterfly in 1:01.94, Matthew Johnson’s 57.15 win in the Boys 14/15yrs 100m Butterfly and a win in 1:49.81 in the Boys 14/15yrs 200m Medley Team.
It meant that at the halfway point Yorkshire led their northern rivals by 12 points, with their points total of 251, compared to Lancashire’s 239 and third place Middlesex’s 232 points.
Lancashire began to fight back, despite another win and 20 points for Yorkshire by Johnson in the Boys 14/15yrs 100m Freestyle. Johnson said: “We’re doing well but we know Lancashire will come back at us. We just think we can do it.”
But after 22 events Lancashire had crept past to hold a slim three point lead, a margin they managed to stretch thanks to two consecutive wins in the Girls and Boys 12/13yrs 100m Butterfly for Shauntelle Austin and Jordan Macdonald respectively.
Yorkshire’s Max Litchfield was the only swimmer to go under a minute with his 57.17 in the Boys 14./15yrs 100m Backstroke and give his team some much needed points going into the final four relay events. But Lancashire continued to score higher than Yorkshire, and eventually take the title with some ease.
The final points scores were Lancashire 494, Yorkshire 469, Middlesex 461 and Somerset 410.
Lancashire’s Boys Captain Craig Langley said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. I’ve been here for five years and this is my final year so it’s brilliant. It was quite close at one point so we knew we all had to do our best and we had a bit of a team talk to motivate us all.”
Devon, Scotland North, Dorset and Worcestershire were all in the bottom four and are relegated from Division 1.
Their places will be taken by Scotland East, Swim Wales East, Nottinghamshire and Swim Wales West, who took the first to fourth places respectively in Division 2.
The early racing in Division 2 saw the lead change hands several times as Leicestershire, Wiltshire and Swim Wales West all made good headway in the early few events. But as the competition continued it was Scotland East who showed their strength and depth and in the first of the Division 2 relays, the Boys 16/17yrs 200m Medley Team, Scotland East managed to hold on as the rest of the field came back at them to touch first in 1:48.96.
It left Scotland East in the lead overall with the competition’s mid-point looming, and they continued to cement their place reaching the half way mark in the lead with 255 points, 22 points ahead of nearest rivals Swim Wales West who were second with 233 points.
Wins for Mark Szaranek in the Boys 14/15yrs 100m Freestyle (53.13) and Craig Benson in the Boys 16/17yrs 100m Breaststroke (1:05.64) helped Scotland East, who were relegated from Division 1 last year, extend their lead. Nottingham, Swim Wales West and Swim Wales East looked favourites to secure the three other promotion spots but they were pushed all the way by Leicestershire.
Scotland East were crowned Division 2 Champions with a points score of 487, Swim Wales East scored 454, Nottinghamshire 446 and Swim Wales West 434.