Swimming Press Reports


Taking the plunge one last time

The “end of an era” was how Watford Swimming and Water Polo Club described its final session at Watford Central Baths.
The club, established more than 100 years ago, met for the last time this week at the venue it has used every Wednesday since 1933. During the 1960s Watford’s central baths was a centre for swimming excellence as there were few indoor pools around.  Consequently Watford Swimming Club was one of the most competitive in the country being supported by at least four professional coaches who privately and individually trained swimmers most nights. However, the club members will become “nomads” from this week using several pools in the area while a Ł20m two pool development at Watford Leisure Centre takes shape, expected for 2008. The development is welcomed by the members who are not able to hold top meets at their 33 and-a-third-yard pool ever since 25 metre pools became the standard.  But saying goodbye to a part of Watford that has been the cornerstone of the club – established in 1901 – for so many years was an emotional affair. Team manager Paul Cuthbert, who is also the oldest competing member joined the club in its 70s’ heyday, said the club would have to train at several pools in and around Watford. He said:  “When I joined it was a fantastic club.  We are the oldest swimming club in Hertfordshire, and probably one of the oldest clubs in Watford.” “It is going to be very uncertain times, but exciting for the club with the new pool.” “For people like me Watford Central Baths has been a way of life.  It will be a huge wrench.  It really is the end of an era.”
The club has been connected with some high profile names and current chief coach is the father of Sharon Davies, Terry, an ex-Olympic coach, while Paul Jones is employed to encourage the younger swimmers as development coach.  And the current chairman, John Martin-Dye, competed at the Tokyo Olympics and still swims. Looking the future Cuthbert said:  “It’s going to be brilliant.  We can use the new pools for our own competitions, but in the interim it is going to be really difficult to keep our heads above water, while we are in limbo.” The club has landed Luton-based Premier Computer Supplies as a backer, while they face the extra expense of training in different pools and is looking for further sponsors.

Watford’s swimmers have been busy recently, competing in various local open meets as well as the Hertfordshire Daplyn trophy.
At the Hemel open meet the large squad came away with 13 medals in what was a very competitive event. Although the team could not match last year’s performance when they won the top club trophy, chief coach Terry Davies was satisfied by the improvement shown.
Carolyn Astbury, aged 14, led the way winning a staggering five golds on the day.  Her wins came in the 50m and 100m free, 100m breast, 100m IM and 100m flay. Amy Callanan won the only other gold in the girls 14 years 100m back.  John Pickford and Hannah Lewis picked up a silver medal each in the boys 15 years 100m breast and girls 14 years 50m free respectively, while Amy Steward, Elizabeth Barry and Paige Dore-Boize all won bronzes.
Astbury continued her excellent form at the Hitchin open meet where she bagged another four golds, winning the 100m fly, 100m free, 100m back and 200m IM.  Two Watford youngsters also won gold at this meet, 11 year-olds Zoe Stewart and Jack Spence.  Both have been training hard recently, and it paid off as they won two golds in the 50m free and fly.  Stewart also won a couple of silvers in the 100m IM and 50m back, while Spence took silver in the 50m back and a bronze in the 100m IM. Shanice Chapman won silver in the 100m back, and Billy O’Neill returned to action after an injury to also take silver in the 15 years 100m back.  Bik Spears won two bronzes in the 13 years 100m free and back.

On Saturday night the club took part in the annual Bob Daplyn Trophy held at Hemel Hempstead. Despite having two very young teams, the boys: Nik Spears (13), Jack Spence (12), Tom Hall (12), Matthew Chapman (11), and Liam Hamilton (11) were placed a creditable eighth out of sixteen teams.  The girls: Emma Lewis (13), Amy Stewart (12), Alice Callanan (12), Megan Davies (12), Heather Tysoe (12) and Zoe Stewart (11) swam consistently but were unable to retain the trophy, won last year, but came in third of 18 teams.


Amy leads the way with backstroke

Watford Swimming Club produced another solid effort in the second round of the Speedo London League at Borehamwood on Saturday.
The squad won ten out of the 50 races to finish third.  There were some great swims on the night, none more so than 14-year-old Amy Callanan who was in great form.  She won the ladies open 100m backstroke event, and led the open medley team relay to victory with a terrific opening leg.
Team mate Paige Dore-Boize smashed her personal best to win the Under-16 100m backstroke, and was also part of the victorious girls open 6x50m freestyle team.  The other members of the squad were Sarah Willer, Kerry Cuthbert, Carolyn Astbury, Shanice Chapman and Lauren Simmonds.  Astbury had a busy night, also winning the open 200m medley and Under-16 100m butterfly, with Simmonds taking the open 100m breastroke.
For the boys, there was a great victory for Kit Burden in the Under-12 50m butterfly, and two excellent relay wins for the Under-16 team of Dean White, John Pickford, Toby Hosker and Nik Spears.


Making a splash

Fourteen-year-old Carolyn Astbury got Watford Swimming Club off to a flyer winning the first event, the 200m individual medley, at the Speedo London League meet in Potters Bar on Saturday. She went on to double up in the Under-16 100m fly, and also teamed up with Amy Callanan, Paige Dore-Boire and Shanice Chapman to take both Under-16 relay events. Callanan and Dore-Boize also won their respective individual races – the 100m back and 100m free – later in the gala.
The squad showed the benefit of an increased training programme under chief coach Terry Davies, and ended up winning 15 out of the 50 events.  However, they ended up losing the gala on the very last event, the mens 6x50m free relay, agonisingly being disqualified for a faulty start which meant they went down by one point to St Albans. Other winners on the night were Lauren Simmonds (open 100m breast), Nik Spears (Under-14 100m free) and Harry Beaumont (Under-12 50m back).


Swimmers in the medals

WATFORD'S swimmers recent rich vein of form continued last weekend as a large squad travelled to Stevenage.
The open meet produced a good deal of success for the team, as they won an impressive seven gold's, four silvers and bronzes. 15-year-old Matt King led the way with an amazing haul of five gold's, plus a silver and a bronze. His gold's came in the 50 and 100m breast, 50 and 100m free and 100m Individual Medley. He won his silver in the 50 fly and his bronze in the 50m back. Watford's other gold's were won by team-mate Billy O'Neill.


Watford sign off championship with another medal frenzy

Watford rounded off this year’s county championship by swelling their already impressive medal tally.The club added a further four gold's, five silvers and 12 bronzes to take their season’s total to 34, placing them fifth overall.
Carolyn Astbury again led the way, and continued her excellent form with another haul of two gold's, a silver and four bronzes.  She finished fourth overall in the 13-year old BAGCAT competition. Astbury’s gold's came in the 200 fly, which she won in a new county best of 2.33.19, and the 400m free. The other gold's were won by Jessica Sullivan in the 13-year-old 50m fly (32.82), and Amy Callanan in the 14-year-old 200m back (2.39.12). Twelve-year-old Hazel Pickford produced a superb swim to reach the final of the ladies open 100m backstroke. She then surpassed that achievement by smashing her personal best to touch home in 72.19, which won her the county championship silver medal. Pickford later added another silver in the 12-year-old 100m breast and a couple of bronzes in the 400m freestyle and 200m backstroke. Silver medals were also won by Lance Owide, in the 15-year-old 1,500m freestyle, and Lauren Simmonds in the 15-year-old 100m breast stroke.
Bronzes were won by Michael Dowds, Matt Toothill, Sky Draper and Adam Raw.


Golds for swimmers

Watford Swimming Club returned with six gold's, two silver and five bronzes from the first weekend of this year’s county championships.  Thirteen-year-old Carolyn Astbury won three gold's, a silver and a bronze while Hazel Pickford, 12, took gold in the backstroke, and two later bronzes while Amy Callannan also won gold, in the under-14 100m.  Kerry Cuthbert won the under 16’s 200m butterfly while Lance Owide, Michael Dowds and Rachel Williams also picked up medals.


Watford make real splash

Watford swimmers were in action in the second round of the Herts League on Saturday, with both teams performing well.
The A team had a tough gala in Division One but recorded seven wins from the 49 events to finish the night in fourth place from the six teams competing.  Had Watford not suffered four disqualifications then the team would have finished higher.
Watford’s winners were:  Carolyn Astbury (under-16 100m fly), Hannah Lewis (under-16 100m free), Hazel Pickford (under-14 100 back), Matt King (under-16 100m fly), Dean White (under-16 100m breast).  Girls under 16 free team (Hannah Lewis, Carolyn Astbury, Hazel Pickford and Jessica Sullivan), and Boys under-16 medley team (Matt King, Billy O’Neill, Dean White and Ben Waterhouse).
Meanwhile, the B team performed admirably at Hemel Hempstead, finishing in sixth place despite the fact that the squad was severely depleted.
They had six wins on the night with Katrina Clark leading the way with wins in the under-16 free and fly.  Laura Trew won the open back.  Chris Longman the under-16 100m breaststroke and there were wins too for the boys open free and medley team of Matt Dixie, Matt Toothill, Alex Combridge and Toby Hosker.

A small squad of Watford’s swimmers were also in action last weekend at the Biggleswade open meet.
Carolyn Astbury, 13 was the star of the show at the high-grade meeting, winning an amazing six gold's from six events entered and gaining some important District qualifying times in the process.  Her wins came in the 400m and 800m freestyle, 100m and 200m fly, and 200m and 400m individual medley.
Also striking gold for Watford were Hazel Pickford in the 12 year girls 50m back and Ben Dollard in the men’s 16+ 50m fly.  Dollard also won the exciting 50m free skins event where the eight fastest boys swim a 50m sprint every three mins, with the slowest being eliminated until there are only two left. Pickford also went on to take silver in the 100m back and bronze in the 50m breast and 800m free.