Press Reports 2001


Boys keep team afloat

WATFORD'S swimmers travelled to Waltham Forest on Saturday to compete in a tough second round of the Speedo London League. Up against strong teams from Ealing, Deben, Epping Forest, Bethnal Green and Colchester, the squad could only manage seven wins from the 50 events, but the points gained from the first round mean they should still finish the league in a similar position to last year, with the final round next month.
The boys under 16 team of Marc Gooding, Matt Ginty, Ben Dollard and Adam Collins were the top performers on the night. They won both relays in tremendous style, with Gooding (100 metres freestyle, 57.97), and Dollard (100 metres butterfly, 1.06.38) taking respective individual races.
Watford have a strong crop of youngsters coming through, Dean White, in the boys under 12 50 metres breastroke, and Stacey Rafferty, in the girls under 12 50 metres freestyle, both celebrated an individual race win, while team-mate Lauren Simmons took the runners-up spot in her under 12 breastroke event. Yasmin Dollard and Matthew Toothill also swam well, both coming third in their under 12 butterfly events.


Ben's dream display

BEN DOLLARD, of Watford Swimming Club, produced an awesome swim last weekend when he competed at the English Schools Championship at Ponds Forge, Sheffield.
Representing Division Ten, 14-year-old Dollard swam in the 100 ,metres butterfly, and took the silver medal in a superb time of 63.97, just one-100th of a second behind the winner.
Watford have just appointed a new chief coach, Marjan Sokolovski, and his training programme is clearly paying dividends. Dollard's time was an astonishing three-seconds personal best, and now puts him in contention for the World Schools Games in France next year.


Good gala outcome

WATFORD SWIMMING CLUB made a pleasing start to this years Speedo League, finishing a close third out of six teams in the first round gala.
Swimming against Acton, Brent, Chelsea and Kensington, Potters Bar and Colchester, 15-year-old Hayley Duncan got the team off to the perfect start in the opening event, the ladies' open 200 metres individual medley which she won in 2.46.55. Duncan was in tremendous form throughout the evening.  She swam in two further individual races, the under 16 100 metres butterfly and freestyle and won them both, with times of 1.17.34 and 1.09.09 respectively.
Young Stacey Rafferty looks to be a real star of the future.  She powered down the pool to take the girls' under 12 50 metres freestyle in a fast 34.23; while Sarah Willer was pleased with a new personal best of 1.07.21, which was good enough to win the ladies' open 100 metres freestyle.
For the boys, Mark Cuthbert won the under 14 100 metres freestyle, again in a new best of 1.07.95.  He went on to team up with Glen White, Nick Ginty and Luke Rogers to record another success in the freestyle team event.
The under 16 team of Adam Collins, Matt Ginty, Marc Gooding and Ben Dollard were in double winning form, taking both their relay events in great style.  The medley race was particularly impressive, with Gooding pulling back a near half length deficit in the final leg.
Gooding and Dollard also took second places in their individual races, and were part of the victorious 6x50 metres open freestyle team in the final event.
Final results:  1, Colchester, 194; 2, Acton, 193; 3,Watford, 186;4, Potters Bar, 164; 5, Chelsea and Kensington, 148; 6, Brent, 136.


League glory sealed in style

WATFORD'S junior team were in superb form again at Hitchin, when they produced another winning performance to wrap up the Herts League Division Two title.
Swimming against the five other best teams in the division - Verulam, Chestnut, Letchworth, Hitchin and Six Hills - the gala looked a very tight affair on paper, with the points totals very close from the first two rounds, but the Watford squad swam so well they were named champions halfway though the evening. Managers John Williams and Brenda Carter had picked their strongest team for the event, and the youngsters did not let them down, coming first or second in 26 of the 41 events.
Individual girl winners were Nicky Dormer in the under 13 25 metres freestyle, recording her first ever gala victory, and new breastroke star Lauren Simmons, who won the under 12 25 metre event by several seconds.
For the boys, top county ten-year-old Dean White took the under 11 25 metres breastroke, Matthew Toothill won the under 12 25 metres freestyle, while the under 13 team recorded a clean sweep, with Glen White winning the backstroke, Tom Rose taking the butterfly, and Paul Gooding doubling up with wins in the breastroke and freestyle. These three teamed up with Stuart Carter to take both relay events in great style.  the other relay winners were the boys' under 12 freestyle team of Guy Rogers, Alisdair Dawson, Duncan Sills and Matt Toothill, and the boys' nine-year-old team of Nicholas Rogers, Eliot Webber-Rosewall, Kevin Williams and Peter Beardsworth. But this was truly a team effort, and great credit goes to Lee Portingale in his final month as club coach.
When the final results were tallied, it was announced that Watford had won the gala by 24 points from their nearest rivals Chestnut, and had therefore won the league title by more than 30 points. As the celebrations started poolside it was left to team captains Kerry Cuthbert and Tom Rose to collect the trophy.


Squad seal win by two points

WATFORD Swimming Club's junior team produced another outstanding performance on Saturday when they competed in the second round of the Peanuts League at Borehamwood.
Watford already knew that their main opponents from the six teams competing would be Six Hills Swimming Club, and after 12 of the 41 events the team were only lying in third place, some 15 points behind Six Hills and Cheshunt. However, the situation changed when the relay events began, and the youngest girls team - nine-year-old Natalie Riley, Rebecca Sills, Rebecca Maguire and Carla White - showed no signs of nerves to record an excellent second place in the freestyle relay, while in the next event the nine-year-old boys of Nicholas Rogers, Eliot Webber-Rosewall, Kevin Williams and Peter Beardsworth went one better to record Watford's first win. After further good swims the team were in second place at half way, just five points behind Cheshunt.
In the following individual events Dean White and Guy Rogers both won their 25m breastroke races, and Tom Rose took his freestyle but was just touched off in his fly event. For the girls Emily Ginty took the under 11 25m backstroke and was runner-up in the 25m fly. The final relay events saw some terrific swimming from the teams, but going into the penultimate event, the boy's under 13 freestyle relay, Watford held a slender lead of just one point. But a fantastic effort from Mark Ponsford, Stuart Carter, Glen White and Tom Rose meant that Watford went into the final event, the squadron, with a very slight advantage. Both teams knew how close the gala was, and the squadron was very tight, with Cheshunt just winning the 8 length race by a mere 0.13 seconds. However, second place was enough to secure victory for Watford by just two points.


Championing the cause of a forgotten sport
Marc Dodd meet a water polo player with his eye on Commonwealth gold

GRAHAM MARTIN-DYE hopes to one day follow in his father's footsteps by swimming for Britain at the Olympics-but right now he's concentrating on next years Commonwealth Games in Manchester with the English water polo team.
The 23-year-old from Garston, narrowly missed out on qualifying for  Great Britain's swimming team in last summer's Sydney Olympics - and has now switched back to his original sport
Graham's return was warmly welcomed by the England Water polo team - he was immediately selected for the side - and with a number of major events coming up this year, it looks to have been a shrewd decision. As well as the Commonwealth Games, the European Championships are also coming up later this year, and if England do well in that tournament, they will be selected to take place in the qualifying tournament for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. He also turns out for local side Watford and represents the Hammersmith Penguins in the national league, which finished in second place last season.
Training is tough, and work commitments mean he is no longer able to train early morning and evening - but he still makes it to the pool once a day. The focus of his training is next year's Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Although team events are not officially part of the games, the Commonwealth Water Polo Tournament, which takes place in Manchester at the same time, is generally recognised as part of the Games, and has a Commonwealth medal at stake - a prize Graham believes is in his reach. He said: "I think England has got every chance of getting a medal of some description, hopefully the gold. "The only thing I'm a bit gutted about is that the tournament is taking place in Manchester and not some where a little more exotic." The competition is sure to be tough, but after a barren spell in their history, the English team's fortunes looks to be changing.
The team returned from the Eight Nations Tournament in Denmark in April with third place, and also did well in the Jackerson Memorial Tournament in Prague a few weeks later - with Graham the top goalscorer. "It did my confidence a lot of good," he said. "The trouble is that other countries don't recognise England as a top team. "We are good players, we just don't have enough time or money invested in our sport."
Graham receives no funding but is sponsored by the newly opened Sportz Academy in Watford, who allow him free use of their facilities to train. One possible solution is to play water polo professionally - something which Graham may have the chance to do in the near future. All the top players play professionally for clubs in the European leagues, and after impressing at a training camp in France last month, several teams indicated their interest in signing Graham. He said: "It's something I'm definitely going to consider, but not until after the Commonwealth Games.  All I'm really focused on just now is getting a medal." It is no surprise that Graham has been successful in the pool - his father John represented Britain at the 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games in Rome and Tokyo, and picked up two bronze Commonwealth Games medals. Under his father's watchful eye, Graham was introduced to the swimming pool at an early age, and was soon representing his country in both swimming and water polo at junior level.
At 19, Graham reluctantly quit water polo to concentrate on swimming with all his training geared towards qualifying for the Olympics. Graham faced an uphill battle from the start - he was forced to train in Hatfield every morning because Watford simply didn't have the facilities. Another obstacle was the issue of funding - a subject for which the British Olympic Association has received fierce criticism. Despite millions of pounds of the public's lottery money being pumped into the sport, swimmers like Graham did not receive a penny - which seems ridiculous when you consider that in 1999 he swam for the England under-21's squad, and finished fourth in an eight-nation tournament which included some of Europe's top young swimmers. As a result, the sport became fragmented and a two-tier system emerged. He said: "The funding system was very poor because the top simmers were receiving all the money, instead of everyone benefiting.  They paid the price in the end, because the team returned from Sydney with no medals." Graham eventually missed out in the Olympic trials at Sheffield last July, finishing 11th in both the 50-metre freestyle and 200-metre freestyle, and just failing to land a place in the relay team. With less than a second separating the swimmers, though, Graham knows how close he came to being selected. He said: "In the end, any one of the swimmers competing could have been aboard that plane to Sydney.  I though I had a chance of at least making it to the relay team, but in the end it wasn't to be." However, the contentious issue of funding still appears to frustrate and annoy Graham, especially when it seems that this lack of support could have cost him his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. "Swimmers lime myself have to deal with a full-time job as well as training every day if we want to be successful," he said.  "At the trials we were competing like Mark Foster and Paul Palmer, who are paid to swim thanks to the funding.  After the trials, I just felt that I wanted to return to water polo.  I gave swimming my best shot and hope one day to make a return to the sport."
Success in the Commonwealth Games is not going to be easy. Australia are as dominant in water polo as they are in swimming, and the pressure will be on the English team to do well in front of a home crow. England must also start impressing if they are to gain qualification for the 2004 Olympics. Historically, only Hungary have a better Olympic record - but the English team has been in the doldrums for a number of years, to such an extent that they must finish highly in  the upcoming European Championships to have any chance of getting to the Olympics. Only then will the sport receive funding from the British Olympic Association, which will enable England to compete with the top European countries. If Graham can win that medal, it will complete an amazing father-and-son Commonwealth double, which could be made all the more remarkable if he does make the next Olympics in Athens in the summer of 2004 - exactly 40 years after his father proudly represented Britain in Tokyo.


Juniors splash out with gala win

WATFORD'S Junior Swimming team made the perfect start to this years "Peanuts" league campaign, after winning the first gala of the season at Potters Bar on Saturday. After being promoted from Division 3 last year, the swimmers knew the opposition was going to be a lot stronger this term, but they produced a superb all-round performance, to win 17 out of the 41 events, and eventually run out winners by a 23 point margin.
Newcomer Lauren Simmons recorded a win on her debut in the Under-12 25 metre breast stroke, while Emily Ginty and Charlotte O'Reilly also notched individual wins.
Dean White, Matthew Toothill, Paul Gooding, Guy Rogers and Tom Rose were all successful in the boys individual events but it was in the relay events that the team really showed their strength in depth. Watford's nine wins in the relays proved the youngsters have nothing to fear this season, despite the step up this season, despite the step up in class and hopes are high of another promotion in this, Watford Swimming Club's centenary year.


Medals win

Amanda Weller and Hayley Duncan both came home with medals last weekend, after competing in the final rounds of the Herts County Junior Swimming Championships.
Swimming in the breastroke, Amanda , 16, just failed in her attempt to add the 100m gold to the 200m title she already holds, with her time of 84.24 good enough for the silver medal.
Hayley, 15, swam in the 100m back, 200m fly and the 400m individual medley and produced fine performances, winning bronze in all three events.
These results are sure to fill the Watford team with confidence, ahead of the Southern County Competitions which take place later in the month.


PB's for talented twosome

Two talented Watford swimmers returned from an open meet in Peterborough with four trophies after achieving personal bests in a number of races.
Paul Gooding, 11, achieved three second places in the 50 metres freestyle in a time of 30.57, 50m breaststroke in 41.4 and 50m butterfly in 35.86. He was also fourth in the 100m individual medley in a time of 1.22.21 and narrowly missed out on the medal in the 50m backstroke, finishing seventh in 41.37.
Joanna Burrows, 12, finished agonisingly just outside the medals on three occasions. However, she had some very exciting swims in the 50m freestyle 33.79, 50m backstroke 39.55, 50m butterfly 39.57 and 100m IM 1.26.41.
Watford swimmers travel to Reading over the Easter weekend to take part in their open meet.


Club team on form

AMANDA WELLER, of Watford Swimming Club, continued her excellent form at the County Championships. Amanda, the holder of the 16-year 200m breastroke title, was one of the favourites for the 200m championship, and she produced a superb swim of 2.58.74, which earned her the title of junior champion and gave her third place over-all.
The men's open 4x100m free team of Greg Buck, Lee Portingale, and brothers Peter and Marc Gooding claimed another title for the club by winning the event in a very fast time of 3.51.86. In the individuals, Peter Gooding took fifth place in the 50m fly, and Lee fourth in the 100m backstroke.
Hayley Duncan and Sarah Willer were also in action, with Hayley, 15, finishing eighth in the junior 100m backstroke and Sarah finishing 15th in the 50m fly.


Swimmers success

WATFORD Swimmers produced a superb set of results in the Herts County Age Group championships a fortnight ago. It has been several years since Watford have had an age-group champion, but this statistic was blown away, with Watford swimmers being crowned county champions in 11 events.
The meet started with Mark Cuthbert in the 13 year boys' 1500m freestyle, which he won to set the ball rolling for the rest of the team. Dollard had a fantastic competition, winning both the 50m fly and 200m free in the 14 year category.
The Watford swimmer of the meet, however, was Dean White - swimming in his first county championships, in the 10 year group.  Dean swam in five events and won four, gaining a second place in the other - a superb achievement.
Hayley Duncan in the girl's 15 year age group, was the club's top female again.  She claimed three county titles, as well as three new Watford club records. Her wins came in the 50m and 200m back, and the 200m IM.


Tough swim keep Watford in elite

WATFORD Swimmers competed in the second round of the Herts Major League on Saturday and found the competition understandably tough. The A team travelled to Hatfield for their Division One gala and eventually finished the night with 211 points, which was only good enough for fifth place. Nevertheless, the points from this round added to the total from round one mean it is almost certain the club will retain their position in the county's elite division, which was the main priority at the start of the year.
The team only managed three wins from the 49  events, Greg Buck took the Men's open 100m fly in 65.24 and teamed up with Lee Portingale, Adam Bowden and Peter Gooding to win both open relay events. There were however some other encouraging swims with Mark Cuthbert producing a PB. in the Under-14 100m backstroke (82.72) to take a fine second place, Dean White gained a third place in the Under-12 on length breast, as did Ben Dollard in the Under 16 100m fly (71.84), and the Gooding brothers Marc and Paul in their respective Under-16 and Under-14 100m freestyle events (62.69 and 71.19).
For the girls, Hayley Duncan starred again, she took the runners-up position in both her individual events, Under-16 100m fly (76.99) and 100m back (79.47), and young Sally Arthur showed good breastroke technique in the Under-12 event to take a fine third place.
Meanwhile, at Haileybury the B team had an excellent evening, finishing their division three gala with 135 points, only nine behind the eventual winners Hitchin. This was another outstanding team performance, and fully vindicates the decision to enter two Watford teams for this years league.
Kim Cox got the evening off to a perfect start, winning the first event, the ladies open 100m free (71.53).  She then teamed up with Julia Petchey, Carline Rogers and Rebecca Dunsmore to win the Ladies open free relay (60.91). Rebecca had a very successful night, with two further victories in the Under-16 50m fly 936.03) and 50m back (37.84), and Caroline also had an individual win in the open 100m breast (93.85).  But the most exciting event was the final squadron relay with Watford just  missing out on first place by 0.50 sec.


Tough competition from the UK's finest

WATFORD Swimmers faced tough competition against some of the country's finest-including Olympic swimmer and world record holder Karen Pickering-when they visited Ipswich to compete in their designated open meet at the weekend. The Watford swimmers had a very enjoyable and successful weekend, and collected a number of trophies as well as attaining countless personal best times.
Hayley Duncan, 14, had a brilliant swim in the gruelling 200m butterfly and finished second in a time of two minutes and 44 seconds. Hayley also finished in sixth medal position in the 200m backstroke (1.15.47), 100m butterfly ( 1.16.32), 200m freestyle(2.27.38) and the 200m individual medley (2.46.30).
Joanna Burrows, 13, also had a hectic and successful weekend in the pool with some impressive swims and numerous personal best times in the 200m backstroke (3.02.38), 100m freestyle (1.15.31), 100m backstroke (1.26.65), 200m freestyle (2.44.16), open 50m free 34.65 and 200m individual medley (3.07.45).
Watford's chief coach Lee Portingale had two very exciting swims in the 200m backstroke and the 100m backstroke. Portingale finished in third place in both races in times of 2.22.80 and 1.04.97 and also swam in the 100m freestyle in a time of 59.00.
The Gooding brothers Peter 16, Marc 14, and 11-year-old Paul were also in good form. Peter finished just outside the medals in the 100m butterfly, after a very strong swim in 1.05.66, and again just missed out in the 50m freestyle in a time of 26.54.
Marc achieved a new PB in the 50m Free in a time of 27.90 and the 100m butterfly in 1.15.01 and finished just outside his PB in the 100m freestyle in 1.01.61.
Paul Knocked another second of his 100m Freestyle best to finish third in 1.08.63, and also third in the 100m breastroke.


Swimming Paul set four personal bests

IN a weekend which saw Watford swimmers travel to different destinations to compete in various meets, 11-year-old Paul Gooding came back with the best tales to tell. Attending the Maxwell Open meet, the first designated meet of the year, Gooding had a very successful weekend, achieving four personal best (PB) times out of his six swims. Gooding's best performance came in the 50m freestyle, which he won by several metres in a new PB time of 30.76, bringing him within tenths of a second of the national qualifying time. The youngster produced another great swim in the 200m individual medley (IM), knocking nine seconds off his PB time to finish fourth in 2.55.39, and in the 100m IM he finished second with another PB of 1.22.42. Gooding was also placed in the 50m breaststroke finishing fourth in 42.14 and fifthinthe50m butterfly in 37.26. He then rounded off the weekend with his fourth personal best - 41.21 in the 50m backstroke.

Hayley Duncan and Amanda Weller travelled further afield with chief coach Lee Portingale to visit Derby, and both enjoyed further success. Amanda achieved a PB time in her breaststroke, with Hayley swimming very well in the 200m butterfly.

A further five Watford swimmers were in great form at the Potters Bar Open Meet. Against strong opposition, Luke Rogers put in a good 100mindividual medley to finish ninth in the 12-13 age group, while his sixteen-year-old sister, Caroline, finished eighth. Young Alasdair Dawson swam hard to finish tenth in the 10-11 years' 200m freestyle in 3.20.27. Meanwhile, team-mates Joanna Burrows and Nicola Dormer faced the toughest test of all against Hertfordshire's best. Both girls made excellent personal bests in the 100 IM and the 200m freestyle.  In the medley, Jo finished in 1.26.56 and Nicky in 1.33.84 in the medley.  They went on to complete the eight lengths of free style in a very creditable 2.43.98 and 2.58.74 respectively.