Deben among early contenders for 2016 Winter League crown after opening round in Leiston
- Credit: Archant
The Winter League got off to a flying start last weekend as it returned from its summer break.
With the new season now around a month old clubs from across the county pitched their teams against each other in the annual competition on Saturday, October 29.
Swum over three rounds (in October, November and January) each swim attracts points for the team with six awarded for first place, five for second, etc. down to one point for sixth (non-finishers or disqualifications attract no points).
The league is swum as one division with participating clubs spread across concurrently-run galas.
Though teams compete against the squads in their own gala on the night all the results from each venue are ranked by finishing time after the event to create a master virtual league.
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It was certainly a good start for Deben SC who clinched first place on the night in the Leiston-hosted gala.
Along with the successful team performance the swimmers achieved 15 personal best between them despite having competed in their own open meet just two weeks previously.
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Helping Deben on the way to a 226 point victory were first-place performances from Connie Davies, Lewis Moore, Hannah Snelham, Hannah Taplin and Minnie Wayman.
In each gala every team is given a joker card which can be played in one male and one female race, attracting double points.
Moore and Wayman took on the mantle for Deben and both returned with the maximum 12 points.
There was also relay success with three wins from four contributing to a total of 18 victories on the night.
Also in Leiston was the team from Felixstowe Waves, which took second place on the night out of the five teams.
The squad ended the evening with 194 points, but by the half-way stage the swimmers had already achieved 20 PBs from 22 races.
A total of 10 wins were recorded by Felixstowe with a clean disqualification sheet also contributing to the squad’s success.
As with Deben, Felixstowe picked up maximum points from its two plays of the joker card, Tom Boyt’s 100metre backstroke and Beth Young’s 200m breaststroke both ending in first-place finishes.
A convenient gala draw must have been at the forefront of the minds of those associated with Lowestoft and Oulton Broad SC, one of the few clubs still entering two teams in the league.
Both started the season at Leiston (preventing an additional logistical challenge for coaches and parents) with Lowestoft Blue (175 points, fourth) just coming out on top of their Lowestoft Yellow (156 points, fifth) teammates.
However it was the yellow team which played their joker cards the better, both picking up maximum points courtesy of Katie Lines and Syd Newnham-Stebbings, the blue squad only managing second and third-place finishes.
Hosts Leiston finished the night in third place with 179 points, but the second best scoring boys’ team.
A second league gala was held at Newmarket the same evening with Mildenhall, Halstead, Stowmarket, Beccles and West Suffolk joining the hosts.
Newmarket took 20 first places from the 44 races and won three of the four relays. Maximum points were gained from the joker swimmers Lauren Watt and Joseph Bavey.
With home advantage on their side the hosts finished the evening in first place in this gala, followed by West Suffolk in second.
Beccles beat Stowmarket to third place by a single point, with Halstead and Mildenhall fifth and sixth respectively.
The second round of the league will take place at different venues on Saturday, November 26.