Gold medal for Okaro at Summer Nationals

Sevenoaks Swimming Club member, Eva Okaro, beat her own personal best to bring home a Gold medal in the 50m freestyle event.

12 members of Sevenoaks Swimming club qualified to compete at the English Summer Nationals in Sheffield last week.

Oliver Coote, (15) Nathan Rodrigues (16) Ellis Stanhope (16) Ellie Vowell and Zoë Naylor- Perrott both 15, had qualified for this event before, whilst Isabella Okaro and Eva Okaro (both 11) Imogen Stoddart and Kara Dimond (both 13) Lilie Chambers and Zachary Raymond (both 14) and Aiden McMillan (15) were first time qualifiers.

Day 1 saw both Oliver and Imogen compete in the 100m breaststroke, both swimming almost bear to their PB finishing in 14th and 19th place respectively. Swimming in the 50m freestyle, Nathan began the morning seeded 6th, stormed his heat in a new PB and qualifying for the final, in which he fought hard to earn another PB earning the club’s first medal finishing in 24.80 to win the bronze.

As Day 2 began, no one could have predicted the massive success which would lead acting Head Coach Jo King to conclude this to have been ‘Wicked Wednesday’. Eva, who is still only 11 (but swimming in the youngest category 12/13) swam in the heats of the 100m butterfly. She swam her heat with effortless speed to knock 3 seconds of her PB reach the final, where she reduced that time by another second to win a magnificent silver medal in a remarkable time of 1.04.95. Next to swim in the 200 freestyle was Ellis, who was seeking to break the magic sub 2 minute barrier for the 1st time. He did exactly that to reach the final in which he swam another fantastic race to win the silver medal and reducing his PB again to finish in 1.58.66. All this after he had swum the 1500m freestyle between the heats and finals (finishing 8th).

Eva Okaro with her gold medal, flanked by her teamates Ellis Stanhope and Zoë Naylor-Perrot

Oliver was the next to compete, giving his all and holding his entry ranking to finish 14th in 2.40.15. Following on was Lilie with her debut nationals swim in the 50m freestyle. Fighting all the way, she deservedly swam a PB of 28.20 to equal her entry ranking of 12th place. Eva then returned in the same event, ranked in first, She didn’t disappoint claiming her spot in the final in the new PB of 27.28. In the final that evening, under pressure, Eva rose to the occasion and won the gold medal, much to the delight of the swimmers and parents who had travelled to Sheffield to support the club. The final event saw Nathan back in the pool in the hundred meter butterfly. Entering the heats in 10th place he, too, produced a PB of 1.00.10 to clean his place in the final where is aim was to break than one minute barrier for the first time. Fighting all the way he did just that with a time of 59.91 and a well deserved 6th place.

Day 3 began with both Zachary and Nathan swimming the heats of the 100m freestyle. Zachary smashed his PB to finish in 57.08 and booking a place in his first National final where he finished in an identical time to take a well deserved place. Nathan, on his 3rd day of racing produced his 2nd fastest time ever of 55.13, narrowly missing a place in the finals, finishing 11th. The next event saw Zoë and Eva in the heats of the 50m backstroke, Zoë finishing close to PB to finish and Eva with a PB which took her into the final where later that evening she produced another PB and another remarkable time for her tender age of 31.40 to take the silver medal. In between the heats and finals, Eva also swam the 200IM, in 2.37.42 to finish in 19th place.

Day 4, the penultimate day, saw the debut of Aiden in the 200m butterfly. Having just missed out on qualification last year, he swam a fantastic heat swim. From entering the event as the 19th seed, he leapt into the final seeded 5th! That evening, Aiden went on to smash his PB again to finish in 2.14.27, for a throughly deserved 5th place. The next event, the 50m breaststroke saw the debut of Kara producing her 2nd fastest time ever to finish 19th. It was Imogen’s turn to swim the event, digging deep to qualify for the final where she produced her 2nd fastest time ever to finish 9th in 35.99, a great achievement in her first nationals. Last to swim in the morning heat (over 4 hours after warm up) was Zoë swimming in the 100m freestyle and in a highly competitive field improved her seeding to qualify for the final. That evening, swimming from lane 0, she produced a gutsy swim to swim 0.3 faster than the heats and take a well deserved 9th place in 1.00.54. Today was styled ‘Fantastic Friday’

The final day of the English Summer Nationals began with the heats of the 50m butterfly, in which the club had 4 swimmers. Isabella, making her debut produced a solid time of 30.85, to finish in 15th place. Ellie also produced a strong swim to finish in a time of 30.13, a courageous swim, given she was managing an injury coming into the champs to finish in 13th. Zoë, on her 3rd consecutive day, came into the event 17th with no expectation of a finals place. Swimming a strong heat, she equalled her entry time to leap into the finals in joint 8th. That evening she finishes her season with a well deserved PB taking 9th spot in 29.64. Eva’s heat swim almost equalled her entry time to take her into the final qualifying fastest. That evening, she produced another incredible final swim to produce a PB of 28.54 and another gold medal! Not only was she one of the youngest in her age group, but the time she produced was faster than the winner of the 15 and 16 yrs age groups! Winning a total of 2 golds and 2 silver medals, Eva is a an incredibly talented swimmer who produced remarkable swims under pressure.

Finally, Ellis swam in the 400m freestyle produced an excellent heat swim to produce a PB and jump from being seeded 13th to book his place in the final ranked 5th. Swimming later that evening, he produced a spellbinding performance to reduce his PB by a further 4 seconds to take a well deserved 5th place in 4.12.89.