Perfect conditions for Open Water Championships at Whitlingham Broad

Sam Rose and Callum Stedman Picture: Simon Rose

Sam Rose and Callum Stedman Picture: Simon Rose - Credit: Archant

Whitlingham Broad was once again the venue for the Swim England East Region Open Water Championships.

Esmie Kidman Picture: Simon Rose

Esmie Kidman Picture: Simon Rose - Credit: Archant

The long day of competition served as both the County OW Championships for Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, as well as providing the qualifying opportunity for the Swim England Open Water National Age Group Championships, over varying distances.

The National event will take place on August 5, although the venue has yet to be confirmed. The first choice site, at Rother Valley Country Park, Rotherham, is currently closed and ruled out for use whilst tests are carried out following the recent discovery of potentially toxic blue-green algae.

At Whitlingham, 465 swimmers took part in perfect conditions.

The youngest competitors were 11, and the oldest was 78-year-old Mike Read, former 'King of the Channel', who swam both the 3km and 5km distance events, in times of 1:00 and 1:54

Lucie Peck Picture: Simon Rose

Lucie Peck Picture: Simon Rose - Credit: Archant


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The first event of the day was the 3km distance, raced over three waves, starting 10 minutes apart.

In the men's 14 years group, gold, silver and bronze went to Oskar Farkas (City of Cambridge), George Grice (City of Norwich) and Harry Sharpe (West Norfolk) respectively. All finished within nine seconds of each other, between 37:29 and 37:38. George and Harry took first and second in the Norfolk competition also.

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For the women's 14 years age group, Ruby Greenhalf (City of Norwich) took gold in 37:12, with Holly Lamb (Borough of Southend) and Antonia Jubb (Hatfield) taking silver and bronze.

There were no Norfolk qualifiers in either of the 15 years age groups. George Whiteman (City of Peterborough), Harley West (Basildon) and Ahaan Saini (Hatfield) qualified for Nationals in the men's competition, while Harriet Salisbury (City of Peterborough), Madelyn Latimer Hicks (St Felix School) and Charlotte Tree (Colchester) did so for the women.

Ruby Greenhalf Picture: Simon Rose

Ruby Greenhalf Picture: Simon Rose - Credit: Archant

Next up was the novice's event, over 1km. Whilst there is no National qualification or equivalent for this distance, it is still a challenging distance, attracting first-time open water swimmers of ages up to their mid-50s this year.

In the youngest age group, 11/12 yrs, Great Yarmouth's Ben Every won county gold, and West Norfolk SC swimmers Rhys Burrell and Jack Sharpe won silver and bronze.

Their medalling counterparts in the girls' competition were Billie Jordan Butler (Dereham Otters), Rosa Hammond and Katerina di Maria from City of Norwich.

In the 13/14 years girls' age group, Erica Charters (West Norfolk) won overall with the fastest Norfolk 1km time of the day, 13:26. Jessica Sanford (Norwich Swan) and Amelie Dockerty (West Norfolk) finishing second and third in the county.

Grace Greenhalf Picture: Simon Rose

Grace Greenhalf Picture: Simon Rose - Credit: Archant

West Norfolk's Jack Drage came third overall in the boys' 15/16 years age group, and first in Norfolk.

In the girls' 17 and over race, Jane Taylor and Hannah Dabbour, both of East Anglian Swallowtails, finished second and third in the region, first and second in the county.

The third event, was raced over 2km. Twelve-year-old National qualifiers were William Fawcett (Watford SC), Ben Howlett (Team Ipswich) and Ryan Wall (Royston) for the boys and Lisa Leinemann (Chelmsford), Amelie Webb (Team Ipswich) and Grace Greenhalf (City of Norwich) for the girls. Grace won the county gold with team-mate Mabel Gigg winning silver and Olivia Skittrell winning bronze. For the boys, Josh Parker (West Norfolk) won gold.

In the 13 years age group, Jack Tate (Gt Yarmouth) won county gold, as did Esmie Kidman (West Norfolk) for the girls. Esmie Kidman came second overall, joining winner Francesca Baber (Central Bedfordshire) and Macy Dexter in qualifying for Nationals. County silver and bronze went to Abigayle Nicholson (City of Norwich) and Amber Montgomery (Norwich Swan).

Harry Sharpe Picture: Simon Rose

Harry Sharpe Picture: Simon Rose - Credit: Archant

For the 15/16 years age group, Rebecca Smith (Norwich Swan) went through.

In the senior age groups, Jonathon Greene of East Anglian Swallowtails finished second overall and first in the county in the men's 50/59 age group, Kayleigh Venables (West Norfolk) was third overall and first in the county in the women's 20/24 age group. Emmeline Vincent won overall the women's 30/34 age group.

The last event of the day was the 5km race, widely seen as the swimming equivalent of a half marathon. Three Norfolk swimmers qualified for the National competition, all from the same club and all in the 16 years age group.

Lucie Peck (West Norfolk), finished in third place regionally and top spot in the county, whilst team-mates Sam Rose and Callum Stedman finished first and third regionally (first and second in Norfolk). Sam's time of 1:08:04 was the quickest men's Norfolk 5km swim, earning him the LeLean (Open) Trophy.

Joshua Thurston Woolnough (Beccles Town), Abbie Barnwell (Team Luton) and Lauren Young (Flitwick) are the other 16-year-olds qualifying to race on August 5.

Jake Lammas (West Norfolk) won county gold in the 17/18 years men's age group.

In the 17/18 year old women, Tilly Anema (City of Norwich) secured a national place, finishing third regionally behind Tia Wilson (Modernian) and Billie Grant (Hatfield). Joe Read (West Norfolk) won county silver to Tilly's gold.

Daisy Hill (City of Norwich) won the overall race in the women's 20/24 years age group, winning the Norfolk Open trophy.

In the men's senior age groups, Samuel Avery (Gt Yarmouth) finished second overall in the men's 20/24 group, first in Norfolk. This position was repeated by Douglas Andrew (East Anglian Swallowtails) in the 25/29 group, and James Tattersall (Dereham Otters) in the 40/49 group. Adam LeLean (Diss Otters) and James Adcock (City of Norwich) finished first and second in the county (second and third overall) for the 50/59 age group.

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