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Swim England Open Water National Age Group Championships 2019

Having qualified via the Midlands Open Water Festival on 7 July, the following swimmers went on to compete in the national championships at Thrybergh Country Park, Rotherham on 5 August 2019.

Sophie Chillingworth (Street, 19 Yrs/O), Alexander Sargeant (Millfield, 17.18 Yrs), Isabella Woollard (Millfield, 14 Yrs), Georgina Woollard (Millfield, 13 Yrs), Francesca Woollard (Millfield, 12 Yrs) and Holly Cleverly (Taunton Deane, 12 Yrs).
19 Yrs/O 5km Races


Sophie Chillingworth (Street, 01:13:50) finished in 14th place as Bracknell’s Grace Kinnell became a national open water champion – only weeks after coming off crutches. Kinnell triumphed in the Girls 19+ Years 5k race. She suffered a stress fracture in her hip earlier this year and spent three months hobbling around on crutches as she recovered from the injury. Kinnell clocked 1:01.39 to finish ahead of Oldham Aquatics’ Molly Roodhouse (1:03.13).

Roodhouse was only half a second ahead of Surrey University Swimming Club’s Millie Emmans, who claimed the bronze in 1:03.14.

Kinnell said: “I really enjoyed that it was really fun. It’s been a tough season this year so I’m happy to get here. I had a stress fracture in my hip in February so I was on crutches for 12 weeks. I got off my crutches about six weeks ago so I’m really happy to win gold. I was in front all the way. I just went out really fast and then held on to it. It was quite smooth up to the first buoy and then to the second but coming in to the finish it was so choppy. I’ve qualified for the Open Water Nationals three years in a row but I’ve never actually made it because I’ve always been injured.”

In the Boys 19+ Years 5k race, City of Manchester’s Bailey Hairsine led from start to finish to comfortably win gold – and go one better than his 2018 performance. He clocked  55:47 to finish almost four minutes ahead of Derventio’s Ryan Reader who won the silver in 59:25. Mount Kelly’s Ben Harrison was in third place in 59:43.

Hairsine, who clocked 58:14 as he finished second in 2018, said: “It was a good race – I was second last year so it’s nice to improve and go one better. It was tough conditions on the back straight. There was a strong wind so I tried to use a different line to get out of that and it seemed to pay off. I ended up winning by about four minutes so I’m really pleased with that. I led from the start and I knew I had the endurance so I just wanted to take it out with everyone and try to get a lead and hold it from the start. Other than the back straight, the rest of the conditions were lovely. It was a really nice water temperature, sunny and quite nice. Overall, it was a really good race.”


17-18 Years 5km Races


Alexander Sargeant (Millfield, 00:58:59) finished seventh as Jack Buswell celebrated victory in one of the closest-ever finishes at the Swim England Open Water National Age Group Championships. In a four-way battle for the gold medal in the Boys 17-18 Years 5k race that saw a dramatic sprint finish, Northampton’s Buswell was first to touch hime in a time of 55:34.247. In total, only 1.47 seconds separated the top four, with Greece’s Ross Aivaliotis claiming a commemorative silver medal for his time of 55:34.697.

The national silver medal went to Newcastle’s Adam Wilson, who was 0.98 behind Buswell in 55:35.220, while City of Salford’s Ewan Wilson was third after clocking 55:35.717.

Buswell had no idea how close the finish was, however, as his goggles had steamed up during the race. He said: “It was good – not too bad. It was quite a nice swim. My goggles fogged up a bit so I couldn’t really see the other boys but I’m happy with the win. I competed in the British Summer Champs as well this year where I competed in the 1500m, 800m and the 400m individual medley and did alright with some PBs. I’m happy with the swim.”

Tiegan Child cruised to the gold medal in the Girls 17-18 Years 5k contest – after finishing second on the podium twice before. The Beckenham swimmer was more than two minutes ahead of her nearest challenger after finishing an impressive swim in a time of 1:00.01.

Chesterfield’s Chloe Stennett was second in 1:02.01, more than 40 seconds in front of City of Manchester Aquatics’ Emma Dickson who took the bronze in 1:02.42.

Child, who was the silver medallist in the 16 years 5k race in 2018, said: “I’ve done Open Water Nationals the last three years now and I’ve come second the last two years so I’m really happy with the gold. I’ve loved open water ever since I started doing it. It’s so different to the pool. It was actually quite nice out there. It was quite cold at the start but it’s quite refreshing, especially with how hot it’s been so it was good. From the start I knew it was going to be a bit rough but I managed to stick with the 19 Boys because we went in the same way.”

It capped a great few days for Child as she also competed at the Swim England National Summer Meet, setting personal bests in the 400m and 800m Freestyle, winning gold in the latter.


16 Yrs 5km Races


Rachel Bradley completed a hat-trick of Swim England national distance titles at the Open Water National Age Group Championships. Days after claiming gold in the 800m and 1500m Freestyle races at the Swim England National Summer Meet, the Middlesbrough swimmer won the Girls 16 Years 5k race.

Bradley clocked 1:02.16 to win by one minute six seconds from Romford Town’s Amelia Moore, who finished in 1:03.22. Guildford’s Genevieve Moller-Butcher was in third place in a time of 1:03.29.

Bradley said: “It was hard but I enjoyed it – it went quite fast actually. I competed in the 1500m and 800m at Ponds Forge as well this week and won both, so it’s been a very good week – I’m really happy.”

Joshua Vance made up for agonisingly missing out on an a podium place 12 months ago as he struck gold in the Boys 16 Years 5k race. The Northampton swimmer was victorious by four seconds as he finished in a time of 56.55. Twelve months ago, he was left disappointed after finishing fourth in the 15 years 3k contest – but he put that behind him in emphatic style as he took gold ahead of Lewis Binning.

Basildon Phoenix’s Binning pushed Vance all the way but eventually had to settle for the silver medal in 56:57. Guildford’s Daniel Donovan was third in 56:59, while Thanet Swim’s Charley Langford received a commemorative bronze medal after clocking 58:02.

Vance said: “It was good – I was quite surprised with it really. I came fourth last year so I wanted to improve on that position. I went out strong and so I was really happy with it.
“After the first lap, I was in the middle, then I moved forward and then I don’t think I saw anyone else after that. It felt a good swim – I thought I swam it quite well. I thought I was a bit brave at the star. I wasn’t sure if it would pay off but obviously it did. The water’s really nice – it’s good conditions.”


15 Yrs 3km Races


Matthew Woodhall and Joshua Weston were involved in a real tussle for the 15 Years Boys 3k gold medal. City of Sheffield’s Woodhall and Wycombe District’s Weston were separated by only 0.317s after an epic 35-minute swim. Woodhall touched first in 35:05.123 to take top spot, with silver medallist Woodhall narrowly behind in 35.05.440.

Elijah Kendrick, Shiverers, was in third place after clocking 35:14.603.

Woodhall said: “It was really fun. This is my fourth year and I enjoy it every year. I got third last year and I’ve only ever had two thirds so it’s a good improvement and I’m really happy.”

City of Birmingham’s Aimee Hood topped the podium in the Girls 15 Years 3k contest – while there was a fight for the silver medal behind her. Hood clocked 36:57.537 to win by 7.716s from Tynemouth’s Lucy Hedley. But Hedley, who finished in 37:05.253, was pushed all the way for the silver medal by Wirral Metro’s Zoe Carless, who was only 0.227 behind in third after touching in 37:05.480.

Hood said: “I enjoyed it. The last bit was a bit wavy with all the wind and the speedboats making things a bit rough. This is my third Nationals but the first two years I haven’t medalled so it’s been a good three years coming. I’ve just moved to City of Birmingham this season and I got two bronze medals at British Champs in the 1500m and the 800m Freestyle this year. When I moved I didn’t ever think I’d get a medal at nationals – I’ve come so far in a year and it’s definitely down to my training and my coaches.”


14 Yrs 3km Races


Isabella Woollard (Millfield, 00:38:43) finished in sixth place. Livia Kingsland was the only person to finish under 38 minutes as she won a Swim England Open Water National Age Group Championships title at her first attempt. The Nova Centurion swimmer was making her debut at the open water nationals and finished 22.34 seconds clear of her nearest rival as she celebrated a comfortable success in the Girls 14 Years 3k race.

Kingsland clocked 37:49.557 with Beckenham’s Amelia Brian second in 38:11.897. City of Sheffield’s Georgia Robertson took the bronze medal after touching home in 38:14.093.

Kingsland said: “It’s the first open water nationals I’ve ever done so it was good. I was at the British Championships in Glasgow a few weeks ago. I won the 1500m Freestyle and got silver in the 800m and 400m freestyle so it was good preparation. It was really wavy and stuff but it was okay.”

City of Salford’s Joseph Stout was named the Boys 14 Years 3k national champion after triumphing by three seconds in only his second-ever open water swim. He clocked 35:51.593 to finish ahead of Fareham Nomads’ Charles Holyer who was narrowly behind in 35:54.963. Wigan BEST’s Liam Carey recorded 36:09.667 to pick up the bronze medal.

Stout said: “It was okay, there were a lot of waves and it’s a bit hectic. I pulled in front by the end of the first lap and then I stayed there for a bit and then I had a few people come up with me and they stayed with me until towards the end – it was a close finish. In terms of the temperature it wasn’t that cold. it was actually fairly warm for open water.

“You had to fight the waves a little bit but, in some cases, especially in the first lap, they kind of carried you a bit so you felt very strong going over them. This is my very first open water event. It’s only my second time swimming open water. The only other time I did it was maybe two months ago when I did a taster day kind of at my local quays. It’s been great – I’ve really enjoyed it."


13 Yrs 2km Races


Georgina Woollard (Millfield, 00:25:58) finished in eighth place (just six seconds off 4th) in a race which saw Ruby Wheeler win back-to-back gold medals at the open water championships. Following a successful National Summer Meet where she won gold in the 12-13 Years 400m Individual Medley, Basildon Phoenix’s Wheeler recorded 24:48 to win the 13 Years Girls 2k race gold medal by five seconds from City of Leeds’ Megan Sharp (24:53). City of Salford’s Ella Blocksidge was third in a time of 24:58.

Wheeler enjoyed success at the 2018 event although she was slightly hampered in her bid to repeat that success. She got slightly tangled in reeds which left her second but she soon got into her stride to take top spot.

Wheeler said: “It was a good race. There was a massive bunch of reeds and I got stuck in it right over by the third buoy. I was coming second but then I got in front right in the last bit. Our race was the final one but the wait was okay because there’s been quite a few swimmers from my club so I’ve been cheering them on. It’s been a good week.”

Alexander Cooper also landed his second Swim England Open Water National Age Group Championships title in emphatic style. ;He triumphed in the Boys 13 Years 2k race by a huge one minute 22 seconds from his Wycombe District team-mate Luke Poulton. At the 2018 championships, Cooper struck gold in the 12 years race by five seconds. But his margin of victory was far more impressive this year as he finished in a time of 24:01.

Poulton touched home in 25:23 to take the silver medal with Borough of Kirklees’ James Plant third after clocking 25:26.

Cooper said: “It was a good race. It was quite hard swimming back down against the waves but good. I was quite a way in front by the end but it was close at the start. It’s been a good atmosphere overall and then a good race. It was a bit windy out there but other than that it was very nice. I’ve done British and English Nationals over the last few weeks as well. I won the 400m Freestyle at the National Summer Meet and came third in the 1500m Freestyle , so I’ve had quite a week.& My family are proud – they’ve been watching most of the events.”


12 Yrs 2km Races


Francesca Woollard (Millfield, 00:28:32) finished in 9th place and Holly Cleverly (Taunton Deane, 00:30:19) came 15th in a race which Ellesmere Titans Millie Wells won. Wells took the girls title in her first-ever open water competition in a close contest. There was only seven seconds between the top three with Wells clocking 26:54 to take the gold medal. Lincoln Vulcan’s Rachel Webb was second in 26:59 while the bronze medal went to Thanet Swim’s Olivia Parpworth in 27:01.

Wells said: “I enjoyed that race – it was my first open water nationals. I haven’t done much open water training before this, just in the pool. The conditions were alright. It was a bit wavy coming up to finish. I’m hoping to come to Nationals again next year but I’m really happy with my gold.”

Well's team mate James Raw dominated his race, winning by an impressive 43.8 seconds margin, touching home in 25:41 with silver medallist Ioan James, Bridgend, clocking 26:25 and Watford’s William Fawcett third in a time of 26:27.

Raw said: “I enjoyed it, I was ahead at the first buoy by about five seconds I think so I stayed ahead. I competed at the Welsh Nationals the other day and I came second to the guy that came second today so I beat him at this one. There’s a bit of a rivalry but we’re friends. The conditions weren’t as bad as they were in the Welsh one, it was quite peaceful.”



Images via Will Johnston Photography

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