Viking Ellen is top girl at Gala

Ellen Eccleston certainly set the pace for the Vikings at the Iceni Swimming Gala hosted by Dereham Otters when she took a staggering nine golds and two silvers medals, subsequently winning the top girl trophy.

“I must have been more focused on my breaststroke events as I  gained three regional qualifying times to compliment my three gold medals  in my age group.” explained the modest 14 year old Aylsham High School student.

In the 200m she paced the race perfectly. Just before the 175m mark Ellen knew she had more to offer and when she came off the turn for the final 25, there was only going to be one winner as she came back from behind to touch first in 2:50.93 from  Millie Harris, of the Wisbech club  who went 3:04.82 . Ellen record the fastest time over the distance in the gala for any age group. Vikings were strong in this event too as Emily Beighten finished in fourth with  3:30.58 and Rebecca Burrows with a very creditable sixth spot in 3:39.73. It was comfortable again for Ellen  in both the 100m 1:18.09 and 50m 36.03.respectively. However, in the 200 Individual Medley (IM) she was made to fight all the way to the finish as she tussled with  Amelia Saunders  of St Felix School, Southwold in one of the most exciting and closest finishes. Ellen proved she was not just a one stroke swimmer as all stokes have to be demonstrated in this event. Only the electronic timing could separate them at the finish as Ellen hit the pad first in 2::35.20  from Amelia’s 2:35.65.

Leah Harris was also a worthy contender for top girl as she went away with five gold medals in an older age group. Where Ellen dominated the breaststroke events, Leah took a clean sweep of the freestyle events. The 20 year from Cromer won the 200m in 2:15.78 and led from the gun in the 100m, completing the first 50m in 30.09 and although she faded a little towards the finish, Leah subsequently held on to achieve a regional qualifying time of 1:01.77  as only split seconds decided the top three places. It was another close one in the 50m as she finished in 28.4 Her other two golds were 100m butterfly 1:09.59 and the 50m breaststroke 36.89 respectively.

Senior Club Captain Harry Hudson swam two exceptional races. In the 100m butterfly 1:02.44 he won by a split second over Harry Weston’s 1:02.93 5 representing Dereham  and the the 50m freestyle he scored 25.58 in another close race. Both his times were regional qualifiers as was his silver medal time of 55.46 for 100m freestyle.

In the juniors, 12 year old Noah Buchan left with a gold in the 200m IM in 3:07.84 and Toby Caufield aged 10 won the 50m breaststoke in 1:01.04. as both achieved respective county qualifying times.

However, it was the consolation medals and personal achievements which were equally noticeable. As for Emily Morton, medals are currently something of the norm as she is enjoying more success. A silver to start with in the 100m butterfly with 1.19.34, and two  bronze medals in the 50m backstroke ( 37.90) and the 100m freestyle (1.09.38) respectively. The 14 year old achieved personal best times and recorded County qualifying times on each outing

Medals kept on coming with Josh Twining’s 200m freestyle in 2:18.44 for bronze and in the 200m Breaststroke he went one better with a silver in 2:59.71. The latter event qualified him for the County Championships in the new year.

Ruby Tracy, 18 fought hard to deservedly win two bronze medals  The first of which was the 100m backstroke when she  finished in 1.18.19 and her other, the 200m breaststroke scoring 3.11.07 just one second outside the silver.

Ashley Jones also of North Walsham not only achieved a bronze medal, his time of  29.34 for the 50m freestyle was both a personal best and a County qualifying time for the 16 year old.

Toby Davidson, 16,  proved to all how he has matured as an athlete. He demonstrated a fluent 100m butterfly and reduced his time by almost 13 seconds to to claim a silver. Equally in the same age group, Jess Seamark won her first medal for the club, a bronze in 1:16.42 over the same distance but in freestyle.

Twin brothers George and Zak Edridge had already qualified for next year’s County Championships prior to the gala but were ready for battle again. In their favourable stoke over 100m breaststroke, it was the turn of Zak to finish ahead of his 12 year old brother in 1:42.16 to claim a bronze as his brother’s 1:44.86. gave him a fourth. However, George beat Zak in the 50m backstroke but  neither of them medalled in the event.

To conclude this gala bronze medals went to Rebecca Burrows in the 200m backstroke 3.03.40 and two  for Reuben Seaman. The 200 IM in 3:48.05 and the 50m butterfly in 54.78 respectively. Both his times were County qualifying times. 

At the conclusion Ellen Eccleston was presented with her Top Girl Trophy by Dereham Otters President Kevin Rumsey and Vikings achieved 19 golds, 10 silvers, 17 bronze, 54 County qualifying times, 10 Regional qualifying times and 91personal best times. Sam Watts, our  lead coach said “We were simply up there with the best”