Devon Development Gala
Nine Exmouth swimmers attended the annual Devon ASA Development Gala at the Plymouth Life Centre, and came away with a number of medals and personal bests as a result of some impressive performances. The gala which is held over three days, provides an opportunity to compete against similar level swimmers from across the County. Swimmers are put in an age group based upon their age at the end of the year.
First up on the blocks for Exmouth, was Daisy Rich, who was at Development Gala for the first time and was also making her 200m breaststroke debut, finishing in a time of 4:43.22. She returned to the pool later that day to set a new PB in the 100m freestyle and on day three of the meet, took over 13 seconds off her 100m backstroke time. In the 200m breaststroke there were also PBs for Sophie Raven and Megan Harris. Sophie took nearly 4 seconds off her time, and was unlucky not to get a medal finishing 4th out of 21 swimmers. Megan finished the gala with two additional PBs, from the 100m freestyle and 200m backstroke.
The second event of the gala was the boys 200m backstroke. Joseph Bollington was the only Exmouth entry in this event, and swam well to take gold in the 15 year old age group. It was the start of a medal rush for Joseph, and what turned out to be a really successful meet for him personally. Entering 10 events, Joseph ended up with 9 golds, 1 silver, and six PBs – a fantastic achievement, which underlines Joseph’s all round ability. Also in action on the first morning was Joshua Smith in the 100m butterfly. He produced a great swim to finish second in the 16 year age group with a new PB of 1.15.35. This was the first of a total of 5 medals and 5 PBs for Joshua, which included gold in both the 200m butterfly and the 1500m freestyle.
Grace Gillingham’s first event of the Development gala was in the 100m butterfly. She swam a new personal best time to finish in third place in the 13 year age group. It was on days two and three though, that Grace made the headlines, with club record breaking swims in both the 100m Individual Medley and 200m Individual Medley. In the 100 IM, Grace broke the 1:20 barrier for the first time, setting a new club record time of 1:19.73 for a 12 year old girl. The swim also gave Grace another bronze medal, with 0.38 of a second separating first and third place. In the 200IM, Grace swam a new club record of 2:53.87 to get a silver medal. The previous record had stood since 1997. Two PBs and a medal in the 100m backstroke also followed later that day.
Day two of the gala saw the long distance races, with the boys completing over 60 lengths of the pool in the 1500 metres, whilst the girls swam 32 lengths of the pool in the 800 metres. Lily Allen was first on the blocks for Exmouth in the 800m, finishing in fourth place. Lily saved her best performances for day three, setting PBs in the both the 200IM and 200m butterfly, the latter of which was rewarded with a silver medal. She also took home bronze in the 100m backstroke. In the 1500m, Exmouth were represented by Joshua Smith and Ryan Voysey, with both boys taking home medals. The event was the first of three that day for Ryan, and he smashed his previous time by 20 seconds to finish with a well deserved silver medal. He produced an equally impressive performance in the 100 IM setting a new PB of 1:26.18, remarkable considering he had earlier competed in the energy sapping 1500m.
Club captain, Clara Woodhead, joined her team mates for day three, and was pleased to take home a bronze medal in her favoured 100m breaststroke. Equally good performances came in the 200IM and 200m butterfly (gold medal), with both swims producing new personal bests.
Exmouth were well represented in the skins – an elimination event raced over 50 metres, with the slowest swimmer dropping out after each leg. Qualification was based on times achieved in the 200IM. Exmouth had 4 out of the 24 qualifiers. Grace Gillingham came fourth in the Junior girls, Clara Woodhead fifth in the Senior girls, whilst in the Senior boys Joseph Bollington and Joshua Smith came 2nd and 3rd respectively.
A fantastic gala for Exmouth- 27 PBs, 24 medals and 2 new club records in what was Jerry Wassall’s last event as Head Coach.