Britain’s Baith ITC squad was among a group competing this weekend at the Derventio eXcel February Festival in Derbyshire, and new squad member Sophie Allen and their 17-year old Olympian Siobhan-Marie O’Connor were the stars of the show.
O’Connor kicked her meet off on Saturday with a lifetime best in the 200 IM of 2:11.72.That’s the fastest time by a Brit this year, and the second-ranked time in the world very early in 2013. She was shut out of this race at the Olympics by, among others, Allen who didn’t swim the race here, but this swim shows that Britain will have at least a three-team battle in the event going toward Barcelona. That, incidentally, broke the British 17-year olds record of 2:12.31 set last year by Sophie Smith (who will be another contender for Worlds).
Allen didn’t swim the race in this meet, but Aimee Wilmott from Middlesboro did in a good early-season 2:14.09. She was unable to hang with the breaststroker O’Connor on the back half of this race.
As impressive as that 200 IM was, it was just the tip-of-the-iceberg for an outstanding meet for the Bath native. She also knocked five seconds off of her personal best in the 200 free to go under two minutes for the first time in her career in 1:59.50. We might have gotten a sub-1:08 in the 100 breaststroke, though she abdicated that race to Allen, who won in a still very good 1:09.36.
The ladies from Bath went home after Saturday, but the men from Loughborough carried on with good swims, though nothing as impressive as what O’Connor did.
Roberto Pavoni took wins in the 100 (51.13) and 200 (1:52.66) freestyles, as well as a 56.99 in the 100 backstroke. For the 400 IM Olympian, this is a good sign; the modern 400 IM’er really likes to spend this time of year attacking each individual component in the race before starting to put it back together in a coherent, entire swim.
Another Bath swimmer, Joe Roebuck, swept the butterfly races. He took the 100 meter version in 53.79 (beating a Pavoni 54.42 – another best time from him), and the 200 in 1:58.57, which ranks 5th in the world in 2013.
And finally, Michael Jamieson and Craig Benson, Great Britain’s top two breaststrokers, split the races in their specialty. Not surprisingly, Jamieson, the Olympic silver medalist, won the 200 in 2:11.75, which is roughly half-a-second better than he was early in 2012. After Jamieson went home with Allen and O’Connor, Benson was left virtually unchallenged en route to a 1:00.98 in the 100; Luxembourg’s top breaststroker Laurent Carnol, who trains at Loughborough, was 2nd in 1:03.46 followed by another Pavoni appearance in 3rd in 1:03.78.
From the younger age groups, another British Age Record went down as well as this developed into really a gang-busters of a meet. Abbie Wood broke the National Age Record for 13-year olds with a 2:31.99 in the 200 long course breaststroke. That’s her best time by over two seconds, and took down a 2:32.22 swum by Jodie Hawksworth in 2009. In terms of 13-year olds, that’s almost unparalleled by anything we’ve seen in the United States this millenium. It’s exactly two seconds faster than anything Allie Szekely did at that age. This is her last race as a 13-year old, and she broke the record of her friend and teammate Hawksworth.
Full meet results available here: http://www.derventioexcel.org.uk/meetresults/dx13ff/