A total of 18 swimmers from Richmond Dales Swimming Club will be heading to the Regional Short Course Swimming Championships after fighting hard to secure qualification times for the competition.
The championships will take place on November 4 and 5 at the Ponds Forge in Sheffield, and will include the fastest swimmers from the North East Swimming region.
This includes athletes who swim for clubs as far north as the Scottish Borders and as far south as Yorkshire.
Richmond Dales age group category qualifiers include Emily Whitby, 11, Oliver Hart, 12, Jessica Bell, 12, Phoebe Dilworth, 11, Liberty Flounders, 13, Alba Kneller, 12, Gracie-Mai Simpson, 12, and Tymofii Borshchenko, 14.
Open category qualifiers include Thomas Eardley, 16, Isabelle Ellis, 17, Ben Gilchrist, 22, William Nichols, 15, Thomas Smith, 17, Lea Westen, 16, and Aaron Wharton, 20.
In addition, several Richmond Dales Para Swimmers have qualified for the event, including Archie Hare, 15, Joe Field, 15 and Maisie Catt, 14.
The championship is the first major competition of the season, which runs from September onwards, and gives swimmers aged 11 years and above the opportunity to test themselves against the best of the rest early in the swimming calendar, before the season flips to long course competition in the new year.
Qualification times are challenging and hard won, and despite 18 Richmond Dales athletes achieving the required times, even more were tantalisingly close.
Many of the Richmond Dales Athletes are familiar faces at these championships, having swum at the club at a high level for several years. For some younger swimmers, however, this will be their first foray into competitive swimming at this level.
The club are particularly proud of these young athletes as they take their first steps into high level competition.
The club, which has grown in recent years to more than 150 members and is based out of Richmond and Catterick Leisure Centres, enjoyed its most successful season to date last year.
The highest number of athletes in the club’s history qualified for the British Summer Championships and The English National Summer Meet, the pinnacle of the competitive season, and club captain Thomas Smith was crowned National Champion in the 100m freestyle.
As such, Team Richmond Dales is hopeful of a successful Regional Championships to start their year with a splash, with a view to topping last year’s outstanding results.
Head coach Gordon Rea said: “The Short Course Regional Championships are a great way to start the season, as it helps to plot the rest of the year with our swimmers.
“It gives a great indication of where everyone is and allows the athletes to get back into the racing mindset as we build toward long course competition in the new year.”
“All of the swimmers who have qualified have worked really hard for their place at this event, spending hours and hours each week staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool.
“It is this commitment and dedication that has got them to this point – and it will also see them go far in life.”