Payne takes Youth Open Water title
The British Gas ASA Open Water National Youth and Senior Age Group Championships got underway in perfect conditions at Rother Valley Country Park earlier today.
With the rise in popularity in Open Water swimming over recent years, some of the nation’s best young swimming talents took to the water, some for the first time, with the hopes of making their mark on the discipline.
The Boys’ 15-16 years race, swum over 1,750m, was won by Harry Payne of Thurrock who finished in a time of 19:17.20.
Despite Dan Seagrove-Castle (City of Canterbury) taking an early lead and heading the rest of the field around the first buoy, Payne took command of the race on the back leg of the course.
Coming into the finish, Mark Deans (City of Glasgow) sat just behind Payne but the Thurrock swimmer held off the competition to take the title..
Deans finished in second with a time of 19:18.43 with Danny Proffitt (West Suffolk) coming home in third in 19:21.25.
“My race plan was to try and get to the front and lead,” said Payne. “Previously I’ve just sat back and I’ve had two third place finishes at Nationals, but this year my coach Lisa [Bates] and I decided to do something different and it worked out.
“I knew I was going out fast at the beginning, and during the middle part I was tired but I kept it up right to the end.
“I definitely came here wanting to win so I’m really pleased with the gold. I’m feeling knackered right now but I’m going to rest a bit ready for the Youth Championships next week.”
In the Girls’ 14-15 years race a tight group formed right from the start with Madeline Tichborne (Barnet Copthall) edging into the lead as she passed the first buoy.
A lead pack of four swimmers, including Tichborne and Gabrielle Hignett (City of Sheffield), broke away in the scrappy race and mixed in with the boys.
Tichborne powered back to the finish line in a time of 20:23.11 with Hignett taking silver in 20:30.52 and Swim Trafford’s Lucy Grainge claiming bronze in 20:31.27.
“It feels really good to win,” said Tichborne. “My race plan worked: I wanted to try and get to the front as soon as I could.
“This is my first Open Water event but I went to a day course in Swansea back in December so I picked up a lot about Open Water swimming there.
“I’ve definitely enjoyed myself and hopefully I can do some more events in the future.”
In the Women’s 16-24 years race, swum over 2,000m, Helen McRoberts (City of Sheffield) and Abbie Henderson (Stockport Metro) were neck and neck at the half way mark displaying their strength in Open Water from the front.
The women took command of the race and were in the mix with the men ahead. McRoberts showed her abilities in Open Water with a dominating performance that saw her finish in 22:23.96, taking national honours in the Women’s race and finishing fourth behind the boys.
Alice McCall (Wigan BEST) took silver in 22:52.20 with Henderson taking bronze in 22:54.11.
“I didn’t really have a plan going into the race,” said McRoberts. “I just wanted to swim hard and not get lost!
“The support from the crowd was really great and hearing them cheering me on was really good.
“This is my third time competing in open water. I really enjoy it and I want to keep going and see what I can get out of it.”
Last year’s champion Stephen Waterhouse, swimming for City of Leeds, took the title in the Men’s 17-24 years race. After swimming in a very tight bunch for much of the race Waterhouse powered down the final straight to win the gold in 22:21.46 ahead of Cameron Smith (East Lothian) in 22:27.00 and William Jolly (Lincoln Vultures) in 22:32.18.
“It was very cold out there,” said Waterhouse. “My race plan was to try and lead from the front and then put in a sprint finish and it worked out.
“I definitely prefer competing in the open water. I like the tactics that go into it and I seem to have a better sprint finish. I’ve got more races coming up so I hope to continue with Open Water.”
Many of the athletes competing in the event will be in action next week at the ASA National Youth Championships taking place from Tuesday 3rd August as Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield.
For a full list of results please click here.