City of Leeds regained their place at the top of the domestic tree as they took their 17th win in the National Speedo Inter-league Final at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge. The Yorkshire club were overwhelming favourites leading into the gala and were simply too good for the opposition despite strong challenges from Millfield and City of Coventry.
Amidst the huge noise of the customary vocal support, the final got underway at a terrific pace as the two medley races produced finals records and wins for the City of Leeds. Rebecca Shaw won the women’s event but was pushed very hard by Sophie Caul of Coventry and Nic Charlesworth from Cambridge in what was a thrilling race. Shaw took the touch, just, in 2:19.91 to shave three hundredths off Karen Pickering’s record. There were no such dramas for British Record holder James Hickman who swam away from the field to record a time of 2:05.00.
It was Millfield, powered by a strong junior section, and City of Coventry who started to mount a serious challege to Leeds as the relays ensued but the Yorkshire club maintained their early momentum to open up a clear lead. That lead was further extended by wins form Joshua Laycock and Joe Sowen, who took the under 11 backstroke and under 13 breaststroke respectively.
But any thoughts of Leeds achieving complete dominance were soon quashed. First Alex Eadie of Salford took the boys under 15 backstroke and Cambridge’s Nicola Charlesworth took her club’s maiden victory at this level, holding off a fast finishing Julia Preston of Leeds to take the ladies open fly. Margaux Trappey of Leatherhead achieved the same feat, taking her club’s opening victory in their first appearance in the final.
Coventry began to emerge as the main contenders as Jason Beresford rmade the most of Hickman’s absence from the men’s fly to record a comfortable victory, a win that was swiftly followed by a first place for Sinead Timms in the girls 10-11 years fly.
Hickman returned to steady the Leeds ship, taking the men’s open backstroke easily from Coventry’s Kevin Barter and Millfield’s Ian Powell, and from that point on the result never really looked in doubt, as Leeds opened up a 30 point lead over Millfield at the halfway stage.
Coventry’s breaststroke programme has always been admired and it was in full evidence in the open breastroke events. Adam Whitehead took the men’s race with consumate ease in 1:02.26, a new finals record, but his performance was surpassed by his teammate Rachel Genner. Genner produced the outstanding swim of the afternoon as she posted a time of 1:09.79, a finals record by nearly two seconds and streets ahead of her nearest rival.
In the end though it wasn’t enough as Leeds cruised home with plenty to spare ahead of Coventry and Millfield while first time finalists Leatherhead impressed with a creditable 4th place. Leeds Head Coach Ian Greyson was understandably pleased with his team’s performance. “We came together as a team today and were greater than the sum of our parts” he said “We got off to a great start and all the kids were really up for it. This win is really all for Terry Denison – the kids just did it for him”
Speedo A Final Result: