Watford Swimming Club offered further evidence of real
progression under the guidance of Terry Davies after collecting a massive medal
haul at an open meet in Hemel Hempstead on Saturday.
In the girls section, ten-year-old Hazel Pickford set the tone for the day with bronzes in the 50m breaststroke and 100m individual medley while, in the 13-14 age group, breaststroke specialist Lauren Simmons took the 100m event in 1.26.57, Nicky Dormer edged out Kerry Cuthbert in the 100m freestyle and Rachel Williams picked up a bronze in the 100m breaststroke. Dormer and Cuthbert also picked up a further silver each.
In the older girls' events, Sarah Willer took the 100m freestyle, flystroke and individual medley while Jasmine McShane also took gold in the 100m flystroke.
The club also dominated the boys' events. Ben Dollard (16), Adam Raw (12) and Matt Toothill (13) took gold, silver and bronze in their respective 100m flystroke events, while Glen White smashed his personal best to take silver in the 13-14 years 100m backstroke in 78.22. In the 100m breaststroke there was gold for Lance Owide (1.32.68) in the 11-12 years, and a silver for Mark Cuthbert in the 15-16 years event Dean White took silver in the 11-12 years 100m individual medley and a bronze in the 100m freestyle (71.54).
The squad reinforced their dominance in the relay events. Of the 14 teams entered. Watford picked up seven gold's, four silver and three bronzes but the highlight of the day was the new club record of 1.48.78 set by Dollard, Adam Collins, Rogers and Cuthbert in the 15-16 years 200m freestyle - smashing the previous record, which has stood for over 25 years, by almost two seconds.
WATFORD SWIMMING CLUB began this year's Speedo London
League campaign with a very encouraging second place in their First Round gala
at Stevenage on Saturday (October 11).
It was another good team performance, especially from the girls as many had to swim up in higher age group categories, and with 15 first places and nine runners-up as well as many personal bests from the 50 events, chief coach Terry Davies was rightly happy.
The girls Under-12 team of Hazel Pickford, Lauren Owide, Carolyn Astbury and Rebecca Andrews got the first win of the evening in the 4x50m freestyle team, and later in the evening doubled up with another victory in the medley team event. The Under-14's were without doubt the most successful for the squad, with both the boys and girls teams recording convincing wins in both relay events: the successful swimmers were Stacey Rafferty, Lauren Simmons, Yasmin Alland and Rachel Williams for the girls, and boys Adam Raw, Dean White, Matt Toothill and Lance Owide. Rafferty had a particularly busy evening, swimming in no less than six events, and she went on to win the girls Under-14 100m freestyle and take the runners-up spot in the 100m backstroke. Also taking an individual event was Alland, who won the girls Under-14 butterfly in 1.22.05.
For the boys, Mark Cuthbert doubled up with wins in both the Under-16 100m breaststroke and Under-16 freestyle. He also took the runners-up position in the open 200m individual medley. Team-mate Adam Collins won the open 100m backstroke, and narrowly failed to take the butterfly event, just being touched out. Under-12 boys Ben Davies (50m breaststroke) and Miles McLoed (50m freestyle) also weighed in with a victory, as did Adam Bowden, who took the open 100m freestyle in a fast 58.87. Top middle distance runner Bowden also produced a storming anchor leg to pip the Enfield swimmer in the open 6x50 freestyle team, which finished the gala in style for Watford.
The next wave
Watford Swimming Club is
beginning to reap the benefits after Terry Davies, father of former world
champion Sharon, took over earlier in the year.
The restructuring he was keen to introduce on arrival has been completed, and word is getting around. Adult sessions are now full, overall membership has increased by about 25 over cent during the summer, while some of the areas top swimmers are beginning to migrate back from surrounding clubs such as Hatfield and Barnet Copthall. Davies though, is anxious not to rush the process: "You need to be swimming and training against like for like at that level, and we're not there yet. We've had some very useful juniors join us, but it's going to take time. I'm confident that in two or three years time we're going to start making the nationals properly". "By that I mean getting into the national age-group squads, which is the first rung on the ladder."
The work he has been doing on the training side of things is baring more immediate fruit. Davies has focused his training on the technical aspects of three key parts of a race: The start; the turn; the finish. "A lot of the local coaches are enthusiastic, but lack the technical expertise, so I've really been concentrating on these skills," Davies said. "Over 100m, they represent 40-50 per cent of the race. Obviously if you can improve them you're going to see major improvements fairly quickly." And he has, Davies took the junior squad to a couple of local development galas early in the summer. The first two underlined just how far Watford had to go but, by the third, progress screamed out to the rival clubs as Watford won the gala. Continued Davies: "There has definitely been a marked improvement. The children are beginning to behave like a team and are starting to think they can do the other clubs some real damage." Those meets though, represent the exception to the norm as Davies has opted out of most local events: "Rather than going to a meet and not doing well, I'd rather spend the time getting the discipline and the technical side of things right." He must believe his swimmers are getting there because he plans to unveil the new, stream-lined Watford Swimming Club at a local gala in the second week of November. This will serve as a rehearsal for the Count Championships in February, when the best 50 or 60 swimmers at the club should be in peak condition after just returning from a warm-weather training camp in Spain, currently being organised by Davies.
But before the club starts patting itself on the back, Davies sounds a note of caution: "There were a lot of bad habits, and you can't just come in with a new brush and sweep everything clean. That's why I've put the emphasis on building from the ground level. I'm looking to build a good town club, and I want to see Watford on its feet and going in the right direction." No doubt there is a long way to go, but Watford already appear some way down the path.
swimmers were in action in the Second Round of the Herts Peanuts League on
Saturday at Hitchin, and produced another good team performance, eventually
winning the gala by 18 points from the five other clubs competing. There were some
excellent swims, with several new personal bests, and he team now go into the
final gala on July 5 where they will be against the top teams from the division.
Hazel Pickford had a very busy evening, swimming in no less than seven races. She won the Under-11 25m backstroke in 21.78, and took second place in the 25m butterfly in 19.66. Rebecca Andrews continues to improve. She also gained a first and second place from her individual events, winning the Under-12 25m freestyle in 16.33, and finishing runner-up in the 25m breastroke (23.22). Andrews also teamed up with Emily Ginty, Katrina Clark and Hannah Lewis to win the Under-13 medley team relay.
In the boys events, there were wins for Dean White in the Under-13 25m breastroke (18.68) and butterfly (17.72), Toby Hosker in the Under-13 freestyle (14.97) and Callum Griffin in the Under-11 25m breastroke (24.52). In what was his last gala for the club, Peter Beardsworth signed off in style with an easy victory in the Under-12 25m butterfly in 17.72. He has been a good servant to Watford, and the club wish him well as his family move to Norfolk. The final victories cam in the relay events; the Under-12 medley team of Elliot Webber-Rosewall, Ben Davies, Peter Beardsworth and Michael Rafferty, and the Under-13 squad of White, Hosker, Billy O'Neill and Nick Hardman, who won both the fee and medley events in their categories.
Impressive medal haul from Mainz mission
Six members of Watford
Swimming Club travelled to Mainz in Germany over the weekend to compete in their
annual International Open Meet.
With temperatures hitting the high 20s at the open-air 50m Olympic-sized pool, the swimmers were racing in conditions they had never encountered before, but they all rose to the occasion and came home with a superb haul of four gold's, eight silvers and two bronzes, and took the position of eighth top club overall, a remarkable achievement with such a small squad.
Dean White led the way with two gold's and a silver from his four events. Breastroke specialist White, 12 took the field apart in both the 100m and 200m events, winning both races by a wide margin. He also used his breastroke speed to good use in the 200m individual medley, moving up during this section of the race to take a fine silver. Adam Collins is thriving under the training regime introduced by new chief coach Terry Davies, and he medalled in all of his five events in the 16-year age group, taking silver in the 100m and 200m backstroke, 200m individual medley and 100m freestyle. But Collins saved his best for his favourite event, the 100m butterfly, and although he did not produce a personal best, his time was good enough for gold.
The final Watford gold went to Mark Cuthbert in the 200m freestyle in the 15-year age group. On the Saturday of the competition, he had been touched out in both the 200m breastroke and 200m individual medley, agonisingly missing first place by 0.1 seconds on both occasions, be he made amends in the 200m freestyle, storming home to win by four seconds. Spurred on by this, he went on to take another silver in the 400m freestyle, and bronze in the 100m freestyle.
The girls' competition at this year's event was a lot tougher than normal, the squads from Geneva, Dijon and Zagreb being particularly strong. The Croatians were particularly impressive, with several national age-group champions competing, and their strength in depth was shown in the 13-year 100m freestyle, where seven of their swimmers went under 67 seconds, and filled the top places. Nevertheless, the Watford girls where not overawed, and Kerry Cuthbert was rewarded with an excellent bronze in the 13-year 100m butterfly for a three-second personal best. She also took a fine fourth in the 200m freestyle, the same position gained by Stacey Rafferty in the 13-year 100m backstroke in another best. Lauren Simmons also took fourth in the 100m breastroke, just missing out on the medals, and fifth in the 200m event. In what was a very good weekend for the club, the meet was extremely well run, and the link between Watford and twin-town Mainz is getting stronger. The invitation for next year's event has already been received, when a larger squad will be hoping to make the trip.
Plotting a revolution in the Watford Pool
now, members of Watford Swimming Club will have realised things have changed.
After months of preparation and evaluation, the complete overhaul of the club’s
training programme began last Wednesday. Over the next couple of weeks,
swimmers who previously went down the club for a few lengths after work will
find themselves part of a new agenda. They will be regularly assessed, their
progress monitored, and targets set accordingly. If they want to play a part in
the transformation of the club, they will be expected to meet them.
At the head of the revolution is Terry Davies, the man who coached daughter Sharon through a career that rolled from one record-breaking high to another. He argues his intention at Watford now is to set the foundations and then take a step back, but the feeling is that, having already failed at one retirement, Davies will again struggle with disassociation and soon enough he will settle back to his pool-side post, ready for the long haul.
But this latest venture was not planned. The wrong side of 60, Davies reluctantly called time on his career last year. “I used to be abroad two or three months a year. You know no other life and I wanted to move on and do something else,” he admitted.
After four decades as a coach, he handed his notice to Swindon Dolphins; the early mornings, 4.45am wake-up calls, six days a week, he argued, were beginning to take their toll. No doubt they were. But after three months of laying in, the tiredness had given way to nagging withdrawal symptoms and suddenly he was back in the game, with his sights turned to Watford.
“I found I missed it. There’s plenty for me to get my teeth into at Watford and I wouldn’t be coming here if I didn’t think there was good potential,” Davies said.
Earlier in the conversation, phrases such as “total restructure of the club” and “I want to cover most sessions” had already betrayed a man anxious to return to rekindle a passion.
That his latest club trains in the evenings was a major drawing card, but Davies had barely settled in before he was talking of introducing morning sessions – to supplement rather than replace evening training – and while that is only anticipated for next year, his three-hour journey from Swindon four times a week should assure him some degree of sleep deprivation, at least until his Berkshire house is sold. “There are exceptional qualifying times now, some of them are even better than former British national records. So I don’t think we’ll get many swimmers there, but eight to ten in three years time is realistic. “Improving our position in the Area League is also one of our basic targets.” Gradual progression is the key though, and Davies marks the County and District Championships as crucial stepping stones in the net few years. However, it will be a long road. A lack of coaching continuity at Watford has seen many of its best swimmers drift to London clubs, and the rebuilding will have to begin from the ground up. “Any sport requires a sound base of technical skill development, and that is what we’re putting in place here,” he explained. “We’ve got a plan which will enable the young ones to recognise their potential, then a strategy which allows them to progress within the club.”
At its core is the policy of training like for like. Sessions will be divided into eight lanes, with each swimmer progressing from the first lane to the eighth as they develop, and then moving on to the next ability group. But with just under 200 swimmers at the club, from seven and eight year olds to 53 year old John Martin-Dye, a former British swimmer and Commonwealth medallist, this is an arduous job.
Davies has spent the first few months since his appointment trying to bracket the swimmers according to ability, and admits the exercise is ongoing. But, even so, he will need to call on the experience of his coaches in this regard, and the input of Alan Lewington, an ASA tutor-trained coach, will be vital. Lewington heads a six-strong coaching body, but Davies is keen to encourage more swimmers to progress in that direction and already a group of young ‘helpers’ is in place and working along the fringes.
But Davies is the man with the baton in his hand and, if the assignment he has taken on is extensive, he is not concerned: “I’ve got a considerable depth of experience, so I can plan things that I know will work. I’ve made mistakes elsewhere.”
Watford swimmers go Dutch
Watford Swimming Club has
re-forged a long standing link with Dutch team Ameersfort. The club invited the
team over, and, as part of a busy three days, hosted a special gala in the
central pool. Watford fielded two teams of about equal strength, and as well as
Ameersfort, teams from Harrow and Ruislip took part.
There were some good performances from the Watford squad, and newly-appointed chief coach Terry Davies was in attendance to cast an eye on his new swimmers.
The format of the gala was specially adapted for the Dutch team, and meant that the youngest age group was Under-14. Therefore, a lot of the younger Watford swimmers were competing against significantly older opponents, but they still gave their all in what turned out to be a very friendly event.
Watford individual winners on the day were: Mark Cuthbert (Under-16 100y freestyle, 55.42); Louise Collins (open 100y backstroke, 1.13.38); Adam Bowden (open 100y freestyle:54.82); Ben Dollard (open 100y butterfly, 57.91); Lauren Simmons (Under-16 100y breaststroke, 1.21.51); Stacey Rafferty (Under-14 100y freestyle, 1.04.38); Yas Allard (Under-14 66y butterfly, 45.95).
Watford are really looking to the future with the appointment of Davies, and changes are going to be made to the training program shortly, with the aim of making the club the number one in the county again.
Next month, a select squad will be travelling to Mainz, Germany, to compete in their international open meet, and training camps for later in the year are being discussed.
Watford’s top-four finish keeps club afloat
Watford’s A team preserved their
Division One status with a gritty team performance in the final round of the
Herts League at Borehamwood on Saturday.
Needing to finish in the top four of their gala, things got off to a bad start when, after two disqualifications for false-starts, the squad was well adrift in last place after 16 events of the 49-race programme. But spurred on by team-mates, the swimmers produced some superb performances, particularly in the relay events, and at the end of the gala had pulled themselves into the fourth place that was needed.
Thirteen-year-old Stacy Rafferty was the star on the night. She was in awesome form; winning both the Under-14 100m freestyle (1.10.03) and Backstroke (1.22.81). County breastroke champion Lauren Simmons easily took the Under-14 100m event, and these two teamed up with Nicky Dormer and Kerry Cuthbert to win both the Under-16 relays. On a busy night for the girls, they were also part of the victorious Under-14 freestyle team, the other swimmers being Yas Alland Hannah Lewis and Kelly Dormer.
The boys Under-12 freestyle team of Nick Rogers, Ben Davies, Miles McCleod and Michael Rafferty posted Watford’s only other win, an excellent achievement, especially as Rafferty and Rogers were making their A team debuts.
Meanwhile, at Potter Bar, the B team competed in the Final of Division Three, which they had reached after two fine results in the first rounds.
They needed to finish in the top two to gain promotion, and although they could not manage this, eventually finishing a highly creditable fourth, it has nevertheless been a very good campaign for Watford’s second team. The only win came from the Under-14 boys freestyle team of Matt Dixie, Billy O’Neill, Toby Hosker and Elroy Elvie. This team also managed the runners-up position in the medley team event. There were also second places in the individual events for Kim Cox (open ladies 100m freestyle), Rachel Williams (Under-14 50m breaststroke), Elroy Elvie (Under-14 50 butterfly), Russ White (open 100m breaststroke) and John Williams (open 50m butterfly).
The final sessions of this years County Championships were held the previous weekend, and Watford’s small squad added to their medal tally. Lauren Simmons, with the 50m title already won, narrowly missed out on making a breastroke double as she was touched out in the girls’ 13-year 100m event, and had to settle for the silver.
In the 15-year boys events, Adam Collins took silver in the 200m backstroke (2.30.16), and bronze in the 100m event (1.10.32), and Mark Cuthbert added another silver in the 400m freestyle (4.41.11). The biggest smile though belonged to nine-year-old Hazel Pickford, who won two bronze medals in her first County Championships.
Simmons storms to County Gold
Watford Swimming Club’s Lauren
Simmons was in scintillating form at the Herts County Championships at the
The 13-year-old breastroke specialist completely outclassed the field in the 50m sprint event, coming home to take Watford’s first gold of this year’s competition in 37.07, which was a second faster than her nearest rival – a tremendous feat at this level. In the 200m event, Simmons posted a very fast 3.03.00 time in the eight-length race, which was well inside the qualifying time for this summer’s Southern Counties Championships, but due to a faulty start, she was disqualified, which robbed her of another medal.
The club has not taken a big squad to this year’s events, but those who have entered have swum well in what is always a very strong competition. Mark Cuthbert, 15, has taken two silvers so far: these came in the gruelling 1,500m freestyle and the 200m breastroke. His team-mate, Adam Collins, also won a medal in the 1,500m; he took the bronze at his first attempt at the distance.
In the ultra-competitive girls 13-year-old events Stacy Rafferty and Kerry Cuthbert have both posted new personal bests to take highly creditable top-ten county placings. Rafferty lowered her best to 1.08.32 in the 100m freestyle, and Cuthbert took fifth place in the 800m freestyle with another personal best. Nine-year-old Hazel Pickford, in her first championships, has also swum with great promise, taking a fine fourth place in the 50m butterfly (49.85) and she looks a star in the making.
Dean White led the way for the younger boys. He swum in several events, coming ninth in the 12-years 100m individual medley, and seventh in the 50m breastroke (41.57), the same position achieved by team mate Chris Longman in the 11-years event (46.22).
swimmers competed in the second round of the Herts League on Saturday, and the
results were very similar to their first outing in the competition with some
impressive performances in a tough competition.
The A team, in action at Stevenage in Division One, had another tough gala, but managed to produce some good performances, although they eventually finished in sixth position.
Lauren Simmons the club's breastroke star, out-classed her opponents in the Under-14 100m race, and she was very pleased with a new personal best of 1.22.86. Hayley Duncan also managed to produce a win in her division; the talented swimmer's victory came in the open 100m backstroke (1.11.41).
But it was the youngest swimmers, the Under-12's, who really shone on the night. All performed exceptionally well, posting some remarkable bests in the process, and are improving with every swim. It was hard to single any out, but Rebecca Andrews, in the breastroke for the girls, and butterfly swimmer Peter Beardsworth both took the runners-up spot in their individual races. However, some disqualifications in the final relays meant that the team finished sixth, and the final gala in April will be a tough battle to avoid relegation.
But the B team had another excellent result at Hitchin in their Division Three gala, and, after coming third, will be in the top gala in the final round.
Elroy Elvie was the star for the team, winning the boys' Under-14 50m breastroke (43.96), and coming a close second in the 50m butterfly (40.66). He also teamed up with Nick Hardman, Billy O'Neill and Matt Dixie to win both the freestyle and medley relays. Two other swimmers also enjoyed victories on the night. Louise Collins took the open ladies 100m backstroke by a wide margin, winning in 1.17.37, and Glen White took the Under-16 50m backstroke in a fast 36.44.
SWIMMING CLUB have again fielded two teams in this year's Herts League, and on
Saturday, they were in action in the first of the three rounds.
The A team, in Division One, were in a tough gala at Potters Bar, and although swimming well, finished in sixth position. Highlights for the team were Lauren Simmons in the girls under-14 100m breaststroke, who took the runners-up spot, and Carolyn Astbury, who also finished in second place in the under-12 50m backstroke.
For the boys, Mark Cuthbert weighed in with two thirds in the under-16 100m freestyle and backstroke, and the under-12 team of Eliot Webber-Rosewal, Ben Davies, Miles McCloed and Peter Beardsworth were involved in some exciting races, and all look to have good potential for the future.
The B team at Hemel Hempstead enjoyed a lot more success in their Division Three gala, eventually finishing in second overall with 11 victories from the 49 events.
The boys under-14 team of Matt Dixie, Elroy Elvie, Toby Hosker and Billy O'Neill won both their relays in fine style; Elvie and Dixie also went on to win their individual events. Phil Blackwell also won for the boys, his success came in the under-16 50m freestyle.
Sarah Willer was in very good form, she won both her individual races, the open 100m backstroke and the 50m butterfly, and team-mate Kim Cox also won the open 100m freestyle. Not surprisingly, the open girls relay teams won both their events, with these two girls teaming up with Mel Forester, Lydia Cox and 12-year-old Rachel Williams for good victories.