18 Oct 2009

Lancashire came from behind to take the Division 1 title at the British Gas ASA National County Team Championships for the eighth consecutive year.

The 20 teams in Division 1 and 18 teams in Division 2 created a great day of competition at Ponds Forge, inspired by Olympians Ross Davenport and David Carry who were deck hosts for the day.

In Division 1 it was Cheshire that got off to a winning start in the first race as Lucy Worrall took the Girls 16/17yrs 100m Freestyle in 56.35, Yorkshire’s Rebecca Turner secured second with 56.48 and Essex’s Verity Goodey took third with 56.76.

Somerset set the early mark in the Boy’s event thanks to two wins from James Disney May and Rio Kurihara, who both secured the maximum 20 points for their county. Disney May took the lead from lane 1 to touch in 50.27 in the Boys 16/17yrs 100m Freestyle.  While in the Boys 12/13yrs 100m Breaststroke Kurihara managed to lower his PB by around five seconds to touch in an impressive 1:10.75.

But while Somerset slipped down the points order, Yorkshire showed they were a threat, producing consistently strong swims across the board, including victory by Sophie Taylor in the Girls 12/13yrs 100m Breaststroke in 1:13.01 and Lucy Budmir in the Girls 14/15yrs 100m Breaststroke in 1:11.12.

 With a third of the competition gone Yorkshire led with 148 points, five points clear of nearest rivals and reigning champions Lancashire (143 points).  These two teams had already started to open up a gap between third place Middlesex (131 points) and as the afternoon progressed Yorkshire and Lancashire continued to pull away.

Lancashire took two psychological wins in the Girls 12/13yrs and Boys 14/15yrs 200m Medley Team Relays, beating their rivals in the latter race by less than two tenths of a second.  The county then took three consecutive wins, culminating in a powerful 27.28 swim by Lancashire’s Emma Saunders in the Girls 14/15yrs 100m Freestyle.

The team suddenly found themselves just one point behind Yorkshire as the competition reached the two thirds mark and as the races progressed they overhauled their Northern rivals. 

The Boys 14/15yrs 100m Backstroke saw the two counties go head-to-head as swimmers Sam Horrocks (Lancashire) and Max Litchfield (Yorkshire) battled it out for the honours. Horrocks led throughout and touched a tenth of a second ahead of his rival Litchfield, who had managed to lower his PB by almost a second on his way to second place.

A win in the Women’s 14/15yrs 200m Medley Team simply cemented Lancashire’s win and even a first place in the Mixed 6x50m Freestyle Relay by Yorkshire was too little, too late.

Lancashire’s winning female captain Katrina Alder said: “This is my last year and it was the same great atmosphere and great competition.  I was really pleased with my [second place] swim because of the time of year and I’ve just come back from swine flu.”

While Matthew Parks, her male counterpart, added: “The win is even better because we were behind and we came back to win it. I was getting a bit worried but we managed to turn it round.”

Nottinghamshire, Wiltshire and Scotland East were relegated from Division 1.

In Division 2, Gloucestershire made the early headway but were pressurized by Devon and Worcestershire as the lead changed hands several times.

Hampshire’s swimmer turned out a number of good swims, including taking the Men’s 16/17yrs 200m Medley Relay just one hundredth of a second ahead of second place Gloucestershire and finishing more than two second ahead in the Women’s 12/13yrs 200m Medley Relay.

At the two thirds mark it was Hampshire who led convincingly, as Devon and Worcestershire contested second and third. 

The first place position remained the same as Hampshire continued to stretch their lead and eventually they took the Division 2 title with 483 points and secured promotion to Division 1 next year.  Worcestershire took second place with 439 points and Devon third with 434 points.

Hampshire’s Mikael Popov said: “It was good fun and great we will be back in Division 1. We’ve always been in Division 1 and it’s great to go straight back in.”

David Carry concluded the day by saying: “We’ve really enjoyed the swimming today so I just wanted to say well done to all the swimmers.”

For full results for Division 1 CLICK HERE
For full results for Division 2 CLICK HERE


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