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Cheshire coach 'extremely proud' as county win Division Two title

Cheshire were crowned Division Two champions at the GoCardless Swim England National County Team Championships 2023.

The county who missed out on promotion by just 12 points in 2022 made sure they would be in the big time next year after taking the title with 478 points.

Their total saw them finish 26 points ahead of Dorset who improved their score by 58 points from last year to finish second.

Cheshire triumphed in four events with a further six-second places and one third across the afternoon.

Iris Hurst was one of the stars of the day for the county with two wins. She set the fastest time in the Female 12-13 Years 100m Freestyle and was a part of the Female 12-13 Years 200m Medley Team alongside Emily Hall, Katie Schillinger and Zoey Rogers.

There were also individual successes for Sophie Weston and Zara Comb in the Female 16-17 Years 100m Backstroke and the Female 14-15 Years 100m Freestyle respectively.

Dorset pushed the eventual champions all the way but couldn’t quite close down Cheshire, ending on 452 points. Dorset had 12 podium finishes across the day to finish runners-up and earn promotion to Division One for 2024.

Scotland North completed a successful return to the competition to finish third with Cambridgeshire finishing fourth to book their place back in the top flight next year.

Impressive performances

Craig Ward, Cheshire lead coach, spoke of how proud of he was of his team saying: “Extremely proud.

“For the last three years we’ve been in Division Two I think so this year they’ve taken it on, last year they were very close to getting it at the halfway mark and then just started to dwindle down on the points in the second half.

“But this time, right from the start they’ve pushed on. There was good team comradery all the way through so really pleased with them.

“Some amazing swims from the youngsters and the older guys as well were on PB times which is absolutely amazing to see. From the whole county, I think the performances were amazing.

“Some of the big swims were those who broke 60 seconds for the first time. So Iris Hurst on the 100m Freestyle did an absolutely amazing job. It was a fantastic performance from her and really energetic all the way through.

“The other stand out was Henry Taylor in the 100m Backstroke – he went a 58.6. There was a lot of them who were getting close to those minute areas and these guys were smashing the minute barrier.

Craig expressed how much he and his team enjoyed the atmosphere at Ponds Forge and how the county are looking forward to being a part of Division One next year.

He said: “As coaches and team managers we were nice and relaxed coming in and as soon as you come, you can’t help but get involved with the atmosphere, it’s so noisy. All the counties were vibing off each other and I think year on year, it just gets noisier and more animated.

“You see it with the team captains when they come through. It’s amazing to see and it’s a great championships. It’s one of the best ones you go to as a team. Counties is just next level.

“We’re really looking forward to next year. Each time you go you’re going to have different swimmers but I think the Cheshire team’s looking strong.

“There’s a lot of new coaches in the area at different clubs, so hopefully the county can push on and remain in Division One and hopefully push on for honours again.”

You can view all the results from Division Two of the GoCardless Swim England National County Team Championships 2023 here.

Images: Will Johnston Photography

Division Two final standings

1. Cheshire 478

2. Dorset 452

3. Scotland North 438

4 .Cambridgeshire 428

5. Staffordshire 420

6. Norfolk 403

7. Gloucestershire 381

8. Oxford & North Buckinghamshire 374

9. Leicestershire 369

10. Swim Wales West 366

11. Wiltshire 319

12. Cornwall 317

13. Northamptonshire 296

14. Lincolnshire 292

15. Cumbria 291

16. Bedfordshire 289

17. Shropshire 192