Lancashire win 11th straight Intercounties title
21 October 2012
Lancashire once again retained their Division 1 crown at the British Gas ASA National County Team Championships, winning for the 11th consecutive year in what proved to be one of the most hotly contested competitions yet.
The 20 teams in Division 1 and 19 teams in Division 2 created a great day of competition and healthy rivalry for the ‘Intercounties’ event at Ponds Forge, inspired by Olympians and Commonwealth medallists Ross Davenport and Cassie Patten who were deck hosts for the day.
In Division 1, Lancashire, Middlesex and Hertfordshire showed strength from the start in the Girls 16/17yrs 100m Freestyle with Lancashire taking the top spot to claim 20 points, Middlesex 19 and Hertfordshire 18.
It was Lancashire’s Girls Captain Jessica Lloyd who took the victory for her county as she powered home to take the event in 54.98, over half a second ahead of her Middlesex rival Isabella Hindley who touched in 55.55. Shauna Lee took third place for Hertfordshire with 56.59.
I think the pressure of wanting to win for the team helped me.
Lloyd, who competed for Team GB in this summer’s Olympic Games in London, performed for her team when it mattered, despite having only been back in the water a few short weeks.
“This was my first competition since the Olympics,” said the 17 year old. “I’ve really enjoyed racing here today and the amazing team spirit here has made the competition even better.
“I’m quite pleased with the time I swam; I had to go to bed really early yesterday because I was so tired so wasn’t expecting to go that fast. I think the pressure of wanting to win for the team helped me.”
Yorkshire, however, took their turn at the top of the leader board following a string of dominant swims including Max Litchfield (55.96) in the Boys 16/17yrs 100m Backstroke, Matthew Johnson’s 55.75 win in the Boys 16/17yrs 100m Butterfly and a close second in the 12/13yrs 4x50m Medley Relay.
This meant that at the halfway point Yorkshire led their northern rivals by 6 points, with a total of 289, followed closely by Lancashire’s 283 and third place Somerset’s 261points.
After 24 events Yorkshire were forced to relinquish their lead, with Lancashire fighting back make it 360 points apiece. The two counties played cat and mouse for the remainder of the session, with some convincing relay wins putting Lancashire in good stead for the title.
However, with only the Mixed Open 6x50m Freestyle relay to go, just two points separated the rivals. Yorkshire suffered an early set back touching in tenth place after the first leg, whilst the Lancashire team of Alex Dunk, William Murray, Brearnna Close, Anna Doughty, Nathan Bennett and Jessica Lloyd stormed ahead of the field to claim the win and thus seal the championship title.
The final points scores were Lancashire 472, Yorkshire 450, Somerset 434 and Middlesex 404.
Essex, Staffordshire, Scotland North, and Dorset were all in the bottom four and are relegated from Division 1.
Their places will be taken by Swim Wales West, Worcestershire, Sussex and Swim Wales East, who took first to fourth place respectively in Division 2.
The early racing in Division 2 saw the lead change hands several times as Shropshire, Worcestershire and Swim Wales West all made good headway in the early few events. But as the competition continued it was Swim Wales West who showed their strength and depth with a string of first and second places, including Katie Rees in the Girls 12/13yrs 100m Breaststroke who won in a time of 1:16.24 and Charlotte Bryan (1:02.65) who sealed the top spot in the Girls 16/17yrs 100m Backstroke.
It left Swim Wales West 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 267 points, 17 points ahead of nearest rivals Swim Wales East with 250 points.
A second win for Bryan in the Girls 16/17yrs 100m Butterfly (1:03.02) and a victory for Jonah Lewis in the Boys 14/15yrs 100m Freestyle (53.63) helped Swim Wales West extend their lead. Worcestershire, Swim Wales East and Sussex looked strong favourites to secure the three other promotion spots but they were pushed all the way by Devon.
Swim Wales West were crowned Division 2 Champions with a points score of 472, Worcestershire scored 428, Sussex 418 and Swim Wales East 412.