Host clubs make the most of home advantage in first round of Suffolk ASA Winter League galas

West Suffolk's team at round one of the 2015/16 Winter League

West Suffolk's team at round one of the 2015/16 Winter League - Credit: Archant

West Suffolk Swimming Club emerged as the early leaders in the 2015/16 Suffolk Winter League after the first round of competition in September.

On the evening of Saturday 19 the club, which counts Olympian Chris Walker-Hebborn amongst its former members, notched up an impressive 304 points while hosting one of the two galas.

There are 12 teams in the league this year competing for position in a single ‘virtual’ table, swimming simultaneously in two galas of six sides.

Once all racing is completed the times in each event from both galas are ranked against each other and points awarded from 12 for first place to one for 12th.

Races in the first round were over 200m, with the exception of the 12yrs and under butterfly which was instead a 100m event.

The second round will focus on 100m events with the 50m sprints taking place in the final galas.

West Suffolk’s head coach Dan Pilbrow highlighted the performances of swimmers who won two events in their gala on the night as key to the club’s success.

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Ella Hale, Taylor Bowen and Isobel Bettley all beat their immediate competition twice during the event with Pilbrow saying the result was a great victory, particularly at such an early stage of the season.

Swimming at the same venue as West Suffolk was Lowestoft and Oulton Broad SC’s A team, who currently sit second in the table on 286 points.

They were one of just four teams to come through the first round with a 100% race completion rate (no disqualifications or ‘did not starts’).

They also set their stalls out early by playing both Joker cards, which allow double points to be scored in one male and one female race, within the first three events.

Luke Barton’s 2min 25.55secs in the 12yrs and under 200m freestyle earned 22 points for his side while Katie Lines picked up the maximum 24 points in the 13/14yrs 200m breastroke.

Hosting the other gala was Newmarket and District SC who made the most of home advantage to take hold of overall third place.

Coach Annette Skeet said it was an exciting evening and that her side had showed “great team spirit” to win 15 of the 30 races at that gala, and seven in the combined table.

Newmarket was also the only team to get overall first places with both plays of the Joker card, earning a valuable 48 points.

Fourth in the combined table is Deben SC, a club which was unsure how successful it would be given the league’s earlier start in the year.

However assistant head coach Matt Boreham said “some exceptional swims” from the likes of Erin Yeomanson, Issy Wickens and Matthew Anderson, amongst others, ensured a good start to the competition. “Considering it is extremely early in the season Deben swimmers achieved 30% PBs which is very impressive,” Boreham added.

“There were also some county qualifying times achieved and others that were extremely close. Overall this was a great start to the Winter League and I am extremely pleased with all who participated.”

A squad of 17 swimmers from Felixstowe SC travelled to the Newmarket-hosted gala.

Unfortunately the squad was slightly depleted through injury but those there put in some strong performances to stay competitive.

Gaby Spalding stepped in to swim a 200m freestyle at the last minute while 10-year-old George Spalding matched up against older boys in the 12yrs and under age group, also at 200m freestyle. Finlay Cook and Thomas Walker also agreed to swim in older age groups to ensure the club did not miss out on vital points.

There were 17 personal best times from the 30 events for Felixstowe swimmers.

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