World Record-holder Ruta Meilutyte and British record-holder Ben Proud combined to lead Plymouth Leander to its sixth National Arena League title in the last seven years.
The 17-year-old Meilutyte won the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke, breaking her own meet record in the latter race with a 1:07.31. She also went 2:14.88 to win the IM. Meilutyte competes for Lithuania on the international stage, but has lived and trained in Great Britain since she was 13.
Proud, 19 years old, went 50.10 to win the men’s 100 free for Plymouth.
The Arena League is a unique system that brings together teams from across England and Wales to compete during regional rounds while vying for a berth in the National Final. There are 7 divisions total with three regional rounds taking place in October, November and December. The winner of each region’s Premier Division Final in December moves on to the national final. In addition, 3 “wild-card” teams are selected by simulating a meet with the results from every region’s non-qualifiers, bringing the national field to 10 teams.
The next 10 best teams are selected for the National B Final.
You can find live results of each meet here:
The following is a press release from the Arena League:
Plymouth Leander won the 45th National Arena League Cup Final of England & Wales to take their sixth title over the last seven years. Their 400-point performance, beating second place Stockport Metro by an unprecedented 75 points, was one of the most dominant displays in British club swimming in recent times.
Spearheaded by Olympic Champion Ruta Meilutyte, Plymouth broke six of the meet records on their journey to success, with Jon Rudd’s team winning 22 of the 50 events in Cardiff. The club’s strength in depth was most apparent in the winning of 10 of the 16 relay events.
World Record holder Meilutyte was awarded the Top Female Award for her performance in the 100m Breaststroke, with team mate Ben Proud matching this with the Top Male Award following a strong 100m Freestyle outing. Plymouth also won the Relay Challenge Trophy (an award based on the accumulative time across the relay events) by over 45 seconds.
Meet records in the individual events came courtesy of Meilutyte (Open 100m Breaststroke) and Antony James in the 100m Butterfly. The Plymouth 13-year-old female 200m Medley relay (Tegan Drew, Jeanri Buys, Jessica Manning, Emma England) were also in record breaking form, with Olivia Halcox replacing Manning to set a new 200m Freestyle relay equivalent in this age group. Both the female (Eliza Duffy, Ruta Meilutyte, Charlotte Atkinson, Julie Meynen) and Male (Joe Hulme, Jack Burton, Antony James, Ben Proud) 200m Medley relays also re-wrote the 45 year-old record books.
Plymouth’s Head Coach Jon Rudd said, “It’s great for us to become club champions of our country for the sixth time and each year we achieve it, we’re closing in on the impressive number of victories from City of Leeds in the 80’s and the 90’s. It’s competitions such as this, where the individual or the relay performance means as much to the collective team as it does to the participants of that particular race, that help instill the kind of values I’ll be looking for from my England team come the Commonwealth Games this summer.”
Plymouth Leander 400
Stockport Metro 325
City of Leeds 319
Guildford City 314
City of Peterborough 268
City of Salford 241
City of Liverpool 232