After the great performance from the Youth and Senior swimmers at the North East Regionals (NER) it was the turn of the Age group swimmers from Junior Elite and JO1. The NERs for the Age groups is divided into two weekends, both held in Leeds. Team Steel managed to impress with 7 gold medals, 15 silver medals and 16 bronze medals in total over the two weekends.

With the heat swims in the morning and the fastest ten of each event in the evening’s finals session it was great to see 32 top ten finishes. This gave our swimmers another chance to improve their time and get into the top 24 for this summer’s British Nationals and to practice their race skills under pressure in a final.
The Age groups at the NERs are 11/12 years combined, 13 and 14. So it is very much our young up and coming swimmers competing. One of our youngest competitors there was Phoebe Cooper who was racing as an 11 year old in the 11/12 category. Despite being the younger age Phoebe took home 7 medals, 4x bronzes and 3 silvers. Her 400 IM, which she swam superbly at the Premier Meet, was again very impressive clocking in a new personal best as well. In that same category was Isla Jones, 12, who took home 4 golds and 1 silver. What was very impressive was the diversity of Isla’s events, she took the medals from fly sprinting events, 50 and 100, to freestyle middle distance, 400, and even 200 IM.

Another multi event swimmer is Thomas Wilkinson, 13, who stormed to first place in the 200 Breaststroke, which is becoming his speciality. But Tom also grabbed a silver in 400 IM and 3 bronzes in 100 Breaststroke, 50 Breaststroke and 200 IM. The Wilkinson family does not stop with Tom though as his sister Annabelle, 14, stood three times on the podium in the Backstroke events, silver in the 200, and bronze in the 100 and 50. One of Annabelle’s long standing training partners is Grace Conroy, 14, who powered to a 2nd place in the 200 Freestyle, just shy of her personal best. I am certain she will achieve that PB in the summer. Two other Team Steel swimmers who have known each other since their first JO3 session are Sophie Bromley and Charlotte Bianchi both 13. They each took a superb bronze, Sophie in her main event, the 200 Backstroke, and Charlotte in hers, the 200 Breaststroke.

One of the newer events for the girls is the 1500 Freestyle, but Molly Baker, 12, and Georgia Robertson, 14, already seem to have this down has their main event and love to race the 30 laps on any occasion. Molly took a brilliant gold and Georgia a great silver in this. But JO1 and Junior Elite don’t just go for the distance evemts, they are also rapid on the sprint events. Curtis Harper, 14, taking silver in the 100 freestyle and then going one better and touching first in the 50 freestyle. Ashleigh Baillie, 13, decided to go for the full spectrum, racing in the 100, 400 and 800 Freestyle and showing both her power and endurance by claiming silver, bronze and bronze respectively.

Now the nervous wait begins to see if their performances were enough to get them into the British and English Nationals this summer, no matter the outcome, we know they will be back in the pool training hard and working on their skills to reach the levels of our Senior swimmers.