National golden haul for West Norfolk swimmers Wells and Coogans

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West Norfolk swimmers have struck gold at the national championships.

The British Summer National Championships and ASA National Swimming Championships 2015 took place in Sheffield over a fortnight.

Seven competitors from West Norfolk Swimming Club descended on the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre to battle with those from 300 other clubs from across the UK, winning a total of five gold medals and national titles.

First up were the British Summer Nationals. Nathan Wells in the 17/18yrs 200m Backstroke finished in 16th place in a season’s best time (2:09.98). On day two Zack Campbell-Maughan, swimming at his first Nationals, finished 18th in 16yrs 50m Back (28.99) and Abigail Whiting 19th in 16yrs 100m Freestyle (59.76).

The third day saw Keely Empson race in the 19yrs+ 200m Back where she finished 14th (2:29.05). The following day she was 16th (31.41) in the 50m Back. The Saturday saw Zack complete his 100m Back in 20th (1:02.85) to round off his first nationals.

The swim of the day came from Wells with a brilliant personal best (pb) time (16:17.65) in the 1500m Free finishing 8th. The final day saw Abigail return in the 50m Free with a speedy swim (27.52) placing her 13th, her best result to date at national level. Wells had an outstanding heat in the 400m Free swimming a five-second pb (4:00.86) which was quick enough to progress him into a hotly contested final where he finished ninth.

Abigail reflected on her experience: “I enjoyed Nationals a great amount as it gave me a chance to compete with the best of the best. I learned a lot about how your confidence affects your performance.

“Next season I’m going to be concentrating on doing the little things right all of the time in training and focus on coming to Nationals with a more confident attitude. I’d love to qualify for more events.”

Monday, August 3 saw Jenny Read and Wells compete in the ASA National Open Water Championships at Rother Valley. With the water temperature at 18C and 15-20mph winds blowing across the lake, both swimmers had to pace themselves. It was Jenny’s first qualification at National level and Nathan’s first Open Water swim at Nationals. Both swam very strong races with Jenny finishing in an excellent 5th in the 13yrs 1.5km event and Wells 10th in the 17/18yrs 5km.

The action returned to Ponds Forge for the ASA Nationals. Wells got a massive six-second pb in the 400m IM heats which sent him into the final as fastest seed. He lived up to expectations and swam clear of the field to win by five seconds in another pb (4:35.75) and become 16/17yrs national champion for the first time.

On the Wednesday he competed in the 200m Free on a high, and swam a three-second pb to become the surprise fastest qualifier for the final.

Wells stuck to his race plan and timed his final charge to perfection to overtake them and take his second National Championship by just 0.02 seconds (pb, 1:53.98).

A shocked Wells said: “It was unreal. I was not expecting to win at all. I was seeded 14th into the qualifying heats, so to take gold at the end is incredible.”

Empson was 12th in the 18yrs+ 100m Back (1:07.51), just missing out on the final.

Coogans swam a pb to cruise into the final of the 18yrs+ 200m Breaststroke as the fastest qualifier. Wells joined her in the finals as he once again swam a two second pb in the heat of the 200m IM to qualify fastest.

Wells swam a much improved race with another three-second pb (2:08.46) to storm home for an amazing third National title. With the gauntlet thrown down, Coogans dominated the field to finish nine seconds ahead and become National champion for the first time with a nine-sec pb (2:34.62).

Natalie said: “I haven’t actually had a pb in this race all season. I did a slight pb in the qualifying heat and then a nine second pb tonight so when I saw my time, I burst into tears. I worked out a very specific pacing strategy with my coach.”

In the sprint events Molly Lee qualified for her first Nationals in the 14yrs 50m Breast and bagged a pb (35.78) in the heat to qualify for the final on her debut where she finished 10th. Coogans competed in a dramatic swim-off for a place in the final in the 18yrs+, just missing out to take 11th but setting a pb (34.85).

Wells finished in 12th place in the 50m Back (28.48) and set a pb in the 100m Back heats, to qualify for the final where he finished 8th in another pb (59.78) to round off an exceptional championships.

Coogans had the final club swim in the 100m Breast qualifying for her second final where she timed her finish perfectly to sneak the win in a three-sec pb (1:13.19) and take her second National title, making it a total of five for WNSC.

Head coach Sarah Vanderloo commented on the club’s most successful National Championships: “I’m incredibly proud of all the swimmers. They have been dedicated and focused in their training and this is reflected in their amazing results.

“It is the most swimmers the club has ever had qualify for National Championships and the highest number of medals won, which is testament to the growing strength and depth of the club.”

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