Trio step up to the next level

PUBLISHED: 12:39 01 August 2012




Three local swimmers have chosen Olympic year to step up their swim training to the next level.

THREE local 15-year-old boys, Marcus Gardiner from Yatton, Matt Bray from Clevedon and Ali Jones from Wrington have chosen Olympic year to step up their swim training to the next level.

They have all benefitted from the solid foundation built by local clubs Clevedon, Weston and Backwell, but in order to access the level of training required to fulfil their potential, they took the difficult decision to move to the City of Bristol Swimming Club.

Over the last 10 months Matt and Ali have enjoyed the structured programme implemented by head coach and former international swimmer and national champion Jez Birds.

Marcus has been training under the expert eye of Bob Lisle, Bristol Henleaze’s head coach, who has worked hard on Marcus’s technique. They regularly train 16 hours each week, with three 5.30am starts, while also fitting in study for GCSEs.

The use of the impressive 50m training facility at Hengrove Park Leisure Centre in south Bristol, together with their dedication and commitment, has enabled them to make huge improvements on last year’s results.

At the county championships held at the Gloucester GL1 pool, Marcus came away with the stroke award for breaststroke and was also crowned age group champion in the 50m and 100m breaststroke.

He achieved five qualifying times for the South West Region Youth Championships where he swam five PBs to take him through to four finals and a silver medal in the 50m breaststroke.

Marcus was back in action at Cardiff where he swam an incredible 100m breaststroke knocking a further 1.25 seconds off his PB and narrowly missing a national qualifying time.

Highlights for Matt were strong performances at the county championships, including becoming junior champion in 200m fly and taking four first places and two second places in the six events he entered.

He qualified for a total of eight events in the South West Region Youth Championships in Plymouth, but made a decision to swim just five of them.

From the three day meet at the Plymouth Life Centre, Matt came away with three gold medals in the 200m fly, 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle. Matt ended the season on a high in the South West Region Sprint meet winning four out of the five events and taking a comfortable win over his competitors. His 50m fly time of 26.46 is the fastest nationally for a 15-year-old boy in 2012 in a 25m pool.

Ali medalled in all nine races at the county championships, winning 400m and 200m freestyle, and 50m fly. Swimming personal best times in every event, he picked up three stroke awards, winning butterfly and coming second in the individual medley and freestyle.

He topped the championship table as the highest ranking 15-year-old across all disciplines and distances. Ali went on to achieve six qualifying times for the South West Region Youth Championships and successfully reached four finals, winning two bronze medals in the 50m and 100m fly.

All three boys are close to achieving national qualifying times and since they are at the bottom of their age group (15/16) they have another year to accomplish this.

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