Sevenoaks swimmers have just returned from a fantastic week at the British Summer Nationals where Eva Okaro smashed her own personal best to take gold and the British title in the 50m butterfly!
To have qualified for this meet, which was held at the Tollcross International (50m) pool in Glasgow, was a huge achievement in itself, with only the top 24 swimmers in Great Britain in each event/age group invited to swim once the ‘qualifying window’ (March to May) had closed. The format of these championships required heat swims in the morning and finals for the top 10 qualifiers in the evening. The age category is determined by the swimmers’s age as at 31st December each year.
Day one saw first time qualifiers Imogen Stoddart and Eva put in solid performances in the 50m breaststroke, climbing up the rankings considerably to 16th and 18th places respectively. Teammate Jacob Hudson swam convincingly in the 100m breaststroke to place 13th overall.
Day two saw Louis Hayes, who had qualified for an amazing eight events at these champs, enter the pool. Louis finished in 20th place in the 50m breaststroke whilst team mate Jacob powered through the same event to a personal best time and finishing 17th. Madeleine Glen, swam an aggressive 200m breaststroke to rise four places and finish 20th overall. Eva returned in the 50m butterfly and flew down the pool to produce a 2nd place seed into the final that evening. Still just 12 years of age, Eva swam the 13/14yr final, fighting to the end. By just 0.02 Eva had snatched the gold and the British title in an incredible time of 28.26!
Day three saw the return of Louis (100m free) and Eva (50m free). Both swam quality heat swims to place in the finals later that evening. There, Louis performed greatly in a very fast final to finish in 6th place, with just 0.37 separating him from placing in 2nd place. Eva produced yet another fantastic swim to win the bronze medal with another personal best in 26.94. Both swimmers stepped up to race faster in their finals.
Day four saw the return and final swim for Jacob, this time in the 200m breaststroke. A technically outstanding heat swim bore Jake a seasons best time and and a 14th place finish. Jacob improved as the week progressed and will no doubt be looking to final in the three breaststroke events next season. Louis, swimming in the heats of 100m fly, produced a gritty swim, finishing 12th. Such is the strength of competition that just 0.11 separated 7th and 12th places. Eva returned to the pool for the heats of the 100m freestyle and came out with another finals place, seeded in 5th. Swimming with determination and conviction in the final that evening, she moved up to finish 4th, just 0.11 behind third place but with another huge personal best of 58.72.
Day five saw Louis flying the Sevenoaks flag in 2 events, beginning with the 200m Individual Medley. After such a long week, Louis showed great strength to finish in 13th place, so unlucky not to make the finals, just 0.21 outside of doing so. With little time to rest. Louis returned to swim in the heats of the 50m free. Finishing virtually on his PB time in a fantastic 25.11, he was incredibly unlucky to finish in 11th, just 0.07 from making the final.
Day six began with Madeleine swimming the heats of the 100m breaststroke. Another gutsy swim with a powerful second 50m she, too, was unlucky not to make the finals, finishing in 11th position, just 0.04 outside of a final place. Eva then swam in the heats of the 100m fly. Smashing her PB by almost a second, she took her place in the finals seeded 3rd. Louis stepped up for his final event in the heats of the 50m fly. Showing great courage after multiple tight margins, Louis put in a strong swim to secure a place in the finals seeded in 7th.
After a long week, Eva and Louis took their places in the evening’s finals.. Determined to give 100% to the end, in the 50m fly final, Louis produced a new PB of 26.39 to claim a fantastic 7th place. Eva lined up for her 100m fly final as the youngest swimmer in the race once again. She stormed through the field, smashing her earlier PB by 0.7s to finish in a time of 1.03.29 to win the silver medal – a fitting end to her amazing week. Both Louis and Eva again swam faster in their finals; showing the ability to step up when it matters. Eva now returns home with a full set of medals, a phenomenal achievement on her British National debut.
Head Coach Keiron Piper summed up his feelings: ‘ I am so proud of each and every one of our young swimmers who qualified and swam in Glasgow this week. They have produced PB’s, seasons bests and technically stronger swims under pressure. Each performance stood out in their own right for me and I can’t wait to build on this platform in the new season where we’ll come back tougher, smarter and better for this experience.’
Eva and Madeleine now travel to Sheffield together with many of their teammates to swim at the English Summer Nationals (the next 20 qualifiers in the window).