On the first day of the ASA National Open Water Championships the sun was shining on Rother Valley Country Park, but the strong wind created some tough swimming conditions.
15/16 Yrs - 2km
The 15/16 Yrs 2km race was up first with 14 competing boys heading out shortly before the 23 girls. Cockermouth’s Tom Millburn had a slight lead early on and having created a bigger gap by the half way point he held on for gold (23.41). Last year’s winner Scott Deans (City of Glasgow) took silver in 23.48 with Winsford’s Ashley Hogg finishing just behind for bronze (23.51).
Millburn said: “The plan was to go out hard and lead from the start then let them catch me up. I was never really sure how close it was but I was feeling pretty confident the whole way through.”
In the girls' race, Ellesmere College’s Harriet Rothwell had a narrow lead after the first lap, but took the turning buoy too wide letting Swansea’s Sophie Evans slip through. The fight for the finish was between Rothwell and Evans but having swum a great race, Evans was disqualified for missing the finish buoys, leaving Rothwell to finish first in 24.38. Silver went to Ealing’s Erin Nabney (24.48), while Rose Foden (Northampton) crossed for bronze (24.54).
Rothwell said “I just wanted to get out in front and try and get some clear water with the front pack. I knew I needed to graft because it was quite rough and windy conditions.”
17/18 Yrs - 3km
In the other event of the day Hatfield and Team GB's Caleb Hughes finished first in the boys 17/18 Yrs 3km while Swansea Aquatics' Ellena Jones won gold in the girls' race.
Last year’s European Junior Open Water Champs 7.5km silver medallist, Hughes, led from the start and pulled clear at the end to win in 31:58.02. Behind him, Thomas Nelson (Wirral Metro) and Tobias Robinson (Royal Wolverhampton) looked neck and neck over the finish line, but with finish times through Robinson was awarded silver (32:00.86) having edged out Nelson (32:01.21) who took the bronze.
“I saw nobody else really wanted to go in front and I didn’t want the pace being too slow so I just took the lead out because of that", Hughes said.
17-year old Ellena Jones competed at the European Junior Champs and Commonwealth Games for Wales this year, but this was her first National Open Water Champs. Jones won comfortably in 33:53.44 for gold, ahead of Windsor and Team GB’s Lucinda Campbell (34:00.55) and Hatfield’s Philippa Shuttleworth (34:03.62).
“It’s always harder swimming in a really close pack so if we could break quickly, it would be easier to get around”, Jones said.