Kingston Upon Hull comfortably lived up to their billing as favourites as they took an impressive win in the 2003 National Speedo League B final. Having won the A final last year Hull were always expected to do well and their strength in depth saw them home with some 44 points to spare from second placed City of Liverpool.
It was immediately apparent that the standard of this gala was going to be high as in the first event national team members Karen Pickering of Ipswich and Kathryn Evans of Nottingham Leander battled it out for the 200 medley. Pickering’s strength told in the final freestyle leg as she took the touch in 2:20.22 and set up what was to be an exciting final.
These events aren’t won by individuals though, and it was in the first set of relays that the strength in depth of the teams first began to show. Hull were mightily impressive, never dropping out of the top three places throughout as they took the early lead in the final. The highlight however came from the Ipswich 15 and under boys freestyle team as Joe Rhodes, a national age group champion, produced a fine anchor leg to bring his team through from fourth place to take the win.
But Hull didn’t ease up, posting a series of impressive wins in the following events. Hollie O’Connor and Dave Waslin scored a backstroke double in the 15 and under age group while a tired looking Ros Brett just held off a fast finishing Stephanie Hill, from Nottingham Leander, to take the open 100 fly. O’Connor was back in action just 5 events later, but couldn’t add the 13 and under backstroke title to her haul as Liverpool’s Francesca Halsall took the win and the first Finals Record of the day with a time of 1:07.22. Liverpool’s British Junior Record holder Michael Rock took the second as he broke his own finals record with a time of 58.13 in the 100m fly.
Joe Rhodes made a further impact on this final as he erased the oldest finals record in the book in winning the 100m freestyle. Mark Foster’s time of 54.28 for the 15 and under age group dated back to 1985, but Rhodes eclipsed that with a swim of 54.19. He was pushed all the way by Dave Waslin though, with the Hull swimmer also close to the old mark.
The best races both came in the open 100m freestyle events. Karen Pickering held off a determined swim from Kathryn Evans to take the ladies event, while Beckenham’s David Bennet duelled all the way to the wall with Horwich’s Anthony Howard as he took the corresponding men’s event by the smallest of margins in 51.95.
There was no let up in the closing events as Hull continued to rack up more high scoring finishes with another impressive set of relay results, although Ipswich took the plaudits as their ladies open team broke the finals record. It was all academic though, as the Humberside club celebrated a deserved victory and took the Paul Matthissen Tray back to the north east.
Speedo B Final Result:
4.Nott Leander 232
7.Perry Beeches 153