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Consecutive golds for Fox as Wycombe start strong at national age groups

Wycombe District and Guildford City dominated the top spot on the podium in the 5k races at the Swim England Open Water National Age Group Championships 2023.

Five of the six gold medals on offer in the morning session were won by the two clubs – with Wycombe collecting three, and Guildford claiming two.

Maidenhead were the only other club to win gold during the 5k races.

Fox finishes top

Lucy Fox, who cruised to victory in the Girls 16 Years 5k race in 2022, made it consecutive gold medals at the open water national age group championships.

Competing in the Girls 17/18 Years 5k race this year, Fox finished on top with a time of 57:29.

Just 10 seconds separated the Wycombe swimmer and silver medallist, Jessica Arundale, of Barnet Copthall.

Arundale swam a time of 57:39 and following in third place was City of Leeds swimmer Jess Widdowson in 57:52.

After collecting her medal, Fox said: “I am super, super happy coming from being at the British Summer Champs all week.

“It was just a really nice way to end the week. I liked racing everyone, it’s been fun.

“I’m loving open water and training has been paying off. We train open water a couple of days a week in the lead up to this event and it’s always the highlight of the week.

“There’s lots of volume and distance, and we do compact swimming occasionally as well.”

After playing her part in helping Wycombe win the top club award last time out, she was asked whether the club were hoping to retain the title this year.

She said: “We all just want to do the best we can do, but it would be great if Wycombe could win it again.”

Pearson pulls away

In the Boys 17/18 Years 5k event, George Pearson took the spoils with a result that he explained felt ‘extra special’.

The Wycombe swimmer was the only athlete to finish under the 54 minute mark in his age group, clocking a time of 53:25.

On his race, he said: “It was really good. The pace was slow on the first four laps so I was just settling in and then turned it up and it went my way for the first time in a while, so I’m happy with that.

“It didn’t go my way last year but then this year I pulled away on the last lap and made it convincing which is what we needed.

“That gold felt extra special – 100 per cent. Two fourths at British Summer Champs as well, so a gold medal means a lot.”

Finishing in the silver medal position with a time of 54:06 was Gloucester’s Amos Starkey and taking the bronze medal was Newcastle’s Josh Denholm (54:08).

Emment ends week in style

Guildford’s Madison Emment was pleased with her performance in the Girls 16 Years 5k race.

A solid swim saw her clinch gold in a time of 58:11, with a closely fought battle for the remaining podium places.

City of Sheffield’s Molly Baker (58:26) and City of Leeds swimmer Evangeline Stacey (58:27) secured silver and bronze respectively, with just one second between the pair.

Emment said: “I’m very pleased. I had a bit of a rocky week at the British Summer Championships.

“I had some really good swims and some swims I was a bit disappointed in, but to finish the week with a bang, I’m really excited about.

“It was a really fun race against a really competitive field so I’m over the moon.

“I wouldn’t say it was the most comfortable race, I knew that a lot of the girls in the field were a lot faster than me over a shorter distance, so I had to race it so that it didn’t come down to a sprint finish.

“So there was a lot of adding in bursts and a lot of fast turns and things like that so by the end of it I was very tired but it was a really fun race.

On her training and preparation for this event, she said: “Since May, every Sunday I’ve been going to the local lake with my coach Joe and my teammates Louise and Morgan and we’ve just been practicing around there, practicing swimming in groups, going round turns and things like that.

“Then just in the pool doing all my freestyle work. That has all been really worthwhile and has really paid off, which is good.”

Williams wins gold

Sam Williams improved on last year’s result to take home a gold medal from Rother Valley.

After winning a silver medal in the 3k race in 2022, he went one better to win the Boys 16 Years 5k race in a time of 53:48.

Williams opened the medal account for Wycombe District, with Samuel Sterry (53:56) of Tigers Jersey the next to finish, earning the silver.

The bronze medal went to Finlay Pope of Stockport Metro who just crept under the 54 minute mark with a time of 53:59.

Williams said: “I’m really pleased. I definitely had a lot of confidence coming into open water.

“It was brilliant to win and I felt like I was dominating and was able to push on at the end.”

Rudd reaps rewards

Maidenhead’s Jack Rudd reaped the rewards of all his hard work as he went on to win the Boys 19+ Years 5k race.

After balancing training and exams, Rudd admitted he felt relieved as he took his place on top of the podium.

He was victorious in the closest 5k race of the day – with just four seconds separating the top three.

The Maidenhead swimmer clocked a time of 50:12. In second place was Mount Kelly’s Nathan Chapman (50:14) and in third was Alexander Sargeant of Millfield (50:16).

Rudd said: “I’m really happy with how I’ve done. I haven’t had that great a run during the past week, but I just feel like that’s made up for it.

“To stand on top of the podium, just feels relieving if anything. It’s just different to what I’ve dealt with over the past few months with exams and everything so just coming in, swimming, it’s just been good.

“I felt like everything went as it should with my preparation. I kind of knew who I was going up against so I knew around about what speed they could go, and I knew who to look out for, so I just made sure I was in a good position throughout.

“I got into a good position at the beginning and I just held on from there.”

Ryan races home for gold

Nicole Ryan rounded off the 5k races with Guildford’s second gold after a strong performance in the Girls 19+ Years event.

She finished narrowly over the 52 minute mark, with 52:09, to end her season ‘on a high’.

Talia Staines of Team Luton got her hands on the silver medal with a time of 53:22. She was followed by Liberty Gordon of Rushmoor Royals who won bronze in 53:39.

Ryan said: “I’m pleased to get a win at the end of the season, it’s a nice high to end on. I’ve got a couple of weeks rest and then back to it again for next season.

“The race went as planned, it was a nice environment to be in, it was good.

“The team is going really well. It’s gone well for us as a club and we’ll be cheering on those competing in the afternoon, so I’m sure they’ll do well.

“We’ll be watching closely to see if we can get some more medals.”

Images: Will Johnston Photography