Beccles Kingfishers show promise in Newmarket, while Steph Bird gets a taste of 2012 Olympics pool

It's that time of the year again when Suffolk's top swimmers meet for the County Championships. The meeting is held over two weekends in Newmarket, the first including 15 Beccles Kingfishers swimmers who qualified earlier in the year for the county's top competition.

Emily Waller, competing in her first County Championships, got things off to an amazing start in her 50m freestyle by taking four seconds off her best for fifth overall.

It set the tone for Beccles as Emily went on to gain new bests in her 50m butterfly and 100m medley.

Felicity Putman and Nina Howell came close to new times in their 50m freestyle, Nina Bircham won bronze in her 50m freestyle by breaking the 30 second barrier and later qualified for the Regional Championships in the 50m butterfly.

Juniors Sophie and Imgoen Long also put in strong swims.


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At the senior end 13-year-old age group swimmers Hannah Barnes and Rhianna James put in a host of swims throughout the weekend. Rhianna picked up bronze in the 100m butterfly and both finished with new bests in the 200m freestyle.

Eleanor Chick, the most senior of the Beccles girls, took bronze in her 50m butterfly along with another regional time for the club and also gained a new best in the 400m medley. For the boys, a small squad include two rising stars in Ollie Woodcock and Max Beevor, who battled it out in the 10-year-old group to bag new bests in their 50m breaststroke.

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Elliott Fenn finished a strong fifth in a tough 50m breaststroke field and nearly secured a new best in his 100m freestyle.

Robert Thurtell picked up a 50m breaststroke PB and followed it up with the same in his 50m backstroke. Leading the boys though was Henry Barnes, who won his age group in the 50m breaststroke picking up the club's first gold of the meeting.

A great weekend from all of the Beccles team, with the hope of keeping this momentum up into the second weekend.

For more details on the club, email tim.kingfishers@hotmail.com

• Local swimmer Steph Bird competed among the elite of British swimming at the new London Olympic swimming pool.

Steph who has been training with Beccles Kingfishers, took part in the televised British Open over last week competing in three events and swimming alongside some of the world's top swimmers.

Steph, a former European disabled champion, took part in 200m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 100m breaststroke in the S14 class and was against one of the strongest fields that competed.

The Beccles swimmer made it to the final in the free and went on to set a season's best in the breaststroke.

After six months of hard work Steph held her own at an event that many swimmers found overwhelming – it is a well deserved experience for Steph, who was able to compete in a pool that only a few will get the chance to swim in and in a few months' time will host one of the world's greatest competitions.

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