Despite all of the challenges experienced by everyone during the many months of the Covid pandemic, the interruptions to swimming pool training and being unable to organise swimming events and competitions due to restrictions, swimmers of all ages from Flitwick Dolphins excelled at Luton Inspire Swimming pool over the weekends of the long-awaited Bedfordshire County Championships that took place during January and February 2022, writes Sandra Grant.
Although it wasn’t certain as we approached the last weeks of 2021 whether the championships would be able to proceed, Beds ASA organised an excellent competition under some very challenging circumstances.
The very carefully thought through and organised schedule with many safety protocols in place allowed swimmers from clubs across the county to come together and compete. Despite being unable to host spectators at the Bedfordshire County-championships, all the swimmers from across the county were able to take part and experience the thrill of competition. For some it was their first county championships and to be able to come together and compete against other swimmers in the county was brilliant.
For Flitwick Dolphins the swimmers who competed made the club proud! The results from the events over the 9 sessions were phenomenal with 30 swimmers achieving at least one medal. The total medal haul, including team events, was 171, with 61 Gold, 57 Silver and 53 Bronze. Even more amazing is the fact that this medal haul is more than the medals achieved by the club at the 2019 and 2020 championships combined: a true testimony to the resilience of the club’s swimmers, the exemplary coaching by the club’s coaching team and the tireless work done by committee members and volunteers which enabled a full and comprehensive coaching programme within all the strict restrictions and required protocols. Flitwick Dolphins swimmers, parents and family members, coaches, committee and volunteers all worked as a team throughout, and the results are clear to see.
Daniel De Filippo topped the medal table with an amazing 14 gold medals, closely followed by Francesca Baber (11 Golds, 4 Silver & 1 Bronze) then Harrison Shaw with the highest overall number of medals, having 7 Golds, 15 Silver and 5 Bronze. 8 swimmers between them set 36 new Club Long course records: Alena Smith, Daniel de Filippo, Francesca Baber, Harrison Shaw, Harry Rowson, Jake Hickmott, Max Thomas and Megan Jones.
In addition to these marvellous results, 4 Dolphin swimmers gained a Top Swim Award at the Championships: Lily Moxon-Booth – Girls 10 years; Harry Rowson – Boys 11 years; Alena Smith – Girls 11 years; Daniel De Filippo – Boys 13 years.
As well as the outstanding individual achievements, Flitwick Dolphins relay teams excelled in their performances winning more medals than ever before.
A mention has to be given to Aaron Evans who only joined Flitwick Dolphins in November, had never swum in a 50m pool. Aaron was called in to replace a swimmer who had unfortunately contracted Covid. Aaron was given just a few days’ notice and with true Dolphin’s spirit he gave it a go. As a result of the club's outstanding team spirit, the team was rewarded with a County Gold!
The clubs head coach, Nigel Halford had this to say: “I have been involved with the club for nearly 20 years and this was by far our best performance at the County Championships, with final after final featuring outstanding performances from our swimmers. I was tremendously proud to be Head Coach at the meet with such a great group of swimmers, coaches, team managers, club officials and volunteers.”