Despite being beset with last minute injury and illness, a determined 24-strong squad from Dorset headed north to Sheffield to take part in this year’s National County Team Championships on 8 October, and what a result! Competing in Division Two, and having placed sixth in 2019 and eighth in 2022, the Dorset team challenged Cheshire all the way, finishing as runners-up just 26 points behind the top placed team, and earning promotion to Division One for 2024.
The start of the competition saw a colourful parade where team captains Charlie Meek and Tilly McHugh introduced Dorset to the competition while Dorset President Madeleine (Lyn) Young enjoyed the hospitality that all county presidents receive. Next came Dorset’s team swimming out of their skins to achieve 12 podium placings plus 12 personal and often awesome PBs.
Charlie Meek kicked off the Dorset run of success, placing second in the 16/17 100m Freestyle (52.18) just half a second behind Scotland North and immediately followed by Halle Robinson in the 12/13 100m Breaststroke (1:15.32) who squeezed out Cheshire from first place with just .04 sec to spare. Two events later Jessica Huggins cruised comfortably ahead of Scotland North into first place to win the 14/15 100m Butterfly (1:02.91) while third places were soon added to the Dorset tally by Halle Harris in the 16/17 100m Backstroke (1.05.00) and Layla Wareing .06 behind Leicestershire in the 12/13 100m Freestyle (1:01.51).
Individual successes were then capped by Damian Fraczek-Krygier with a prized first place in the 12/13 100m Freestyle (57.62) and soon followed by a run of points-grabbing third places from Jack Palmer just .01 behind Norfolk in the 12/13 100m Backstroke (1:06.42), Hugo Young in a hard fought 14/15 100m Freestyle (54.40) and Damian Fraczek-Krygier in the 12/13 100m Butterfly (1.04.88).
Three relay successes boosted the final points tally with the 16/17 200m Medley team of Charlie Meek, Freddie Beasley, Max Leigh and Zack Studley (1:46.87) finishing second .09 behind Northants, and third placings from the 12/13 200 Medley team of Maicie Cailes, Halle Robinson, Layla Wareing and Sophie Le Roux (2:08.19) and the 12/13 200m Medley team of Jack Palmer, Harry Silvey, Damian Fraczek-Krygier and Angus Watson (2:01.09).
Sincere thanks must go to all of our swimmers for their enthusiasm and determination in achieving such a great result, together with coaches Sam Woodward and Chris Neilson, team staff of David Clark, Niamh Vercoe and Amanda Osgood, and Dorset Officials Sue Podger and Tracey Roberts. Especial thanks must go to Tilly McHugh, Lauren Osgood and Oscar Smith for stepping up at the eleventh hour.
The Dorset Team was as follows: Blandford – Harry Silvey; Bournemouth Collegiate – Angus Watson; Poole – Freddie Beasley, Maicie Cailes, Freya Coupe, Halle Harris, Jessica Huggins, Damian Fraczek-Krygier, Sophie Le Roux, Tilly McHugh, Charlie Meek, Jack Palmer, Halle Robinson, Zack Studley, Hugo Young; Seagulls – Freya Treliving; Swim Bournemouth – Henry Dean, Max Leigh; West Dorset – Amelia Chaffey, James Gunn, Lauren Osgood, Sadie Robinson, Oscar Smith, Layla Wareing.