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Swim England President Richard Whitehead was a welcome visitor to this year’s Dorset County Championships where four County Records were broken during the first weekend and ten new Competition Best Times set in the age groups records over the five days of competition. The Championships was also attended by Somerset ASA President Alison Bashford on the final day.

Kayla van der Merwe (BCS) lead the record-breaking on the first day with an impressive performance in the 100m Breaststroke with a winning time of 1:09.48, which took almost a second off the Dorset Junior Record held for 18 years by former ASA National Champion Charlotte Evans of Bournemouth Dolphins.

Two months before making his Commonwealth Games debut, Jacob Peters (Poole) went on to slice 0.76 sec from the Dorset Senior Record with a time of 58.91 for 100m Individual Medley held by Ferndown’s Dominic MacDonald since 2008 and followed this by smashing three seconds from his own 400m Individual Medley Senior record in a time of 4:34.17.

With the reverse long distance events reintroduced for 2018 and last swum in the Championships in 2010, it was inevitable that some records would fall and Emily Clarke (Poole) did not disappoint. Her winning time of 16:41.02 for 1500m Freestyle slashed 23 seconds off the Senior County Record held by Bournemouth Dolphins’ Danielle Francis since 2008. Fourteen year old Alex Palotai-Avella’s (Swim Bournemouth) Senior bronze and Junior gold time of 17:36.52 was also less than four seconds off the Junior County Record held since 2006 by Bournemouth Dolphins’ Kimberley Rowles, which bodes well for the record to be soon broken.

Oliver Fairman (Poole) gave a confident performance in the 1500m Freestyle at Dorchester to retain his Senior title with a time of 16:25.90 but the male distance events also proved to be a triumph for Seagulls SC with James Richardson, Miles Ward and Sonny Chamberlain-Hyde picking up four of the six Championships medals in each of the 1500m and 800m Freestyle events.

It was Bournemouth Collegiate’s  Ella Chown who dominated the podium by taking a total of 12 Championship golds with both Senior and Junior medals for 200m Butterfly, 200m Individual Medley and 50m Butterfly and Junior Medals for 200m, 100m and 50m Freestyle, 100m and 50m Butterfly, 200m Breaststroke and 50m Backstroke. Her 200m Butterfly time of 2:20.38 also knocked four seconds off the 15 years CBT, held since 1992 by Ferndown’s former British Butterfly champion Sam Greenep. The Junior 50m Freestyle gold was shared with Poole’s Ella McNamara.

Highlights of the age group CBTs were Jacob Peters’ 100m Freestyle time of 50.88 which toppled the 17+ years record held by Seth Chappels (Ferndown) since 2004 and, at the very youngest end of the competition, Peters own 50m Freestyle CBT from 2011 for the 9-10 years age group falling to Swim Bournemouth’s Hugo Young with a time of 31.06. Poole’s Jasmine McCrea also sliced over half a second off  the Senior CBT for 100m Butterfly held by Alex Savage (Ferndown) from 2005 while Ella Chown (BCS) lowered the 15 years CBT held by Lydia McManus (Ferndown) since 2007.

Photo: Swim England President Richard Whitehead (right) and Dorset County ASA President Chris Gassmann (left) present County Record certificates to Bournemouth Collegiate’s Kayla van der Merwe and Poole’s Jacob Peters and Jasmine McCrea at Littledown on Saturday 17 February 2018.