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Croot and Evans claim 16 yrs titles for Swansea

The boys’ and girls’ 3k open water swimming events kicked off with the 16 yrs age group at the Rother Valley Country Park in Sheffield.

Cameron Croot of Swansea was leading the way at the end of the second lap, with a good 2m of clear water behind him. Thomas Stacey of City of Coventry pushed hard to catch Croot down the final straight, but couldn’t make up the time despite the effort.

Croot finished in first, touching 35:48.21 for the gold medal. Stacey managed to stay ahead of Bicester’s Kieran Bird, receiving silver with 36:09.54.

Bird, who had been heading up the main pack behind the two front runners, kept his position to win bronze (37:06.51).

The girls’ event was a battle to the finish. Sophie Evans of Swansea and Rose Foden of Northampton had been swimming almost on top of one another for the majority of the race.

Both swimmers fought until the final stroke, with Evans coming out on top with 36:41.10 and Foden following a second later, with 36:42.07.

Sophie Millen (Wycombe District) and Loulou Vos (Hillingdon) were also not much more than a stroke apart after the last corner, but Millen clinched the bronze with a time of 38:16.14, a mere second ahead of Vos.

Nathan Hughes holds on for 15 yrs title

The boys’ 15 yrs age group 3k was a close competition. Nathan Hughes of Hatfield had been leading for the majority of the race with Jacob Butterfield (City of Leeds) sitting right on his feet and Dominic Johnson (Portsmouth) just a couple of metres behind.

Hughes held out for the duration, finishing a good 14 seconds in front, coming home in 35:31.45.

“The water temperature was cold with a lot more waves than last year, so it made it tougher,” – Nathan Hughes.

He commented: “It was good, but quite tiring obviously. The water temperature was cold with a lot more waves than last year, so it made it much tougher.

“The competition was a lot harder than last year, but I actually found it better. I do a lot of open water swimming, regionals, the Great Swims and the Henley events, so I do get a fair bit of training. I did the Great Lake Swim at Windermere earlier in the year, which was great.”

Butterfield kept on with the chase and was rewarded with a silver for his efforts (35:45.50) while Johnson fell behind into sixth. Max Murphy of Milton powered through the field to win himself a bronze medal with 36:48.32.

The 15 yrs 3k was a hotly contested race for the girls, with the main pack all finishing within a minute of one another.

Pheobe Griffiths of Waltham Forest, Sarah Branch of Northampton and Tazmin Pugh of Ellesmere managed to pull away, each one desperate to claim that gold medal finish.

Griffiths ultimately came through first in 36:57.40, Branch second with 37:01.69 and Pugh finished in 37:07.58, winning gold, silver and bronze respectively.