Joe swims to national glory

IPSWICH swimmer Joe Rhodes has confirmed his place as a national champion.The 14-year-old convincingly took the title for his 100m freestyle swim in the closely-fought ASA National Age Group Championships.

By Debbie Watson

IPSWICH swimmer Joe Rhodes has confirmed his place as a national champion.

The 14-year-old convincingly took the title for his 100m freestyle swim in the closely-fought ASA National Age Group Championships.

Rhodes, who has consistently produced medal winning performances on the regional circuit this year, is now gaining some of the national recognition for which he has worked so hard in recent months.

A pupil at Orwell High School, Felixstowe, he claimed a personal best at the Sheffield-based championships for all three of his 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle events.

In the 200m Rhodes narrowly missed out on a second gold to take silver in a time of 1.59.70.

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"I'm really pleased with the swims," Joe said. "To get a first and a second is certainly far more than I'd expected.

"I knew I was looking good for the 100, but even so, I wasn't over-confident and the result was a real surprise."

Given his latest performance, Joe could soon be on his way for inclusion in the next World Class Potential training camp as part of the Sport England initiative.

"From what I understand, anyone who took a first in the Nationals would be due to be selected," he said. "I really hope that's the case because it would give me the opportunity to train with some

top-level people and to benefit from people like Bill Sweetenham.

"He's given swimmers in Britain a lot of confidence and he's known as being quite tough so I think that's a good thing for someone like me who wants to get to the top."

Sweetenham, the new ASA British National performance director, has been the subject of much praise in recent days, given the fantastic performance of England's Commonwealth Games


He's seen as being a positive influence on the sport and brings many years of experience – and achievement.

Joe added: "I'm really very pleased with how this year has gone for me. I'm going to make the most of the summer rest and then get back into training set for new goals like the Midlands Seniors.

"I'm lucky to have a good coach in Dave Champion, and to benefit from the fact that he concentrates specifically on the 100m and 200m freestyle with Karen (Pickering).

"I hope I'll continue this form and keep on breaking the times and climbing up the national tables."

Also representing Ipswich in the four-day Age Group event at Ponds Forge was 13-year-old Matt Vinter. Again faced with a number of tough individual races, Vinter claimed PBs in four of his six swims.

Proving his great form at the 200m

distance, the Ipswich teenager took fifth in the 200m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 200m butterfly.

At just 12 years old, both Timothy Price and Sophie Poole also offered convincing performances in their respective Championship races on behalf of Ipswich.

"I really enjoyed the event and it was a great experience to take part in something of that level," commented Sophie.

"It made it even more special to be there for Joe's success and to see him take gold. There was a great atmosphere."

Deben's Mark Stevens also helped to wave the flag for Suffolk at the national event.

Swimming in the Championships for the first time, he was the club's only swimmer to qualify for the competition.

The teenager's best finish came in the 200m Butterfly – giving him fourth place in a time of 2.32.03.

Stevens also took a Suffolk County Record in the 100m Butterfly when he finished fifth for that event.


14-year-old Joe Rhodes: 100m freestyle 1st 54.87 P.B, 200m freestyle 2nd 1.59.70 P.B, and 400m freestyle 6th 4.19.35 P.B.

13 year old Matthew Vinter: 100m freestyle 7th 58.19 P.B, 200m freestyle 5th 2.06.20 P.B, 200m Individual medley 5th 2.24.02 P.B, 100m butterfly 1.04.33 P.B, 200m butterfly 5th 2.24.21 and 100m backstroke 10th 1.07.81.

12-year-old Timothy Price: 100m freestyle 43rd 1.06.98 and 200m freestyle 52nd 2.23.09.

12-year-old Sophie Poole: 100m freestyle 18th 1.04.94 P.B and 200m freestyle 27th 2.21.29 P.B.

DEBEN'S RESULTS (Mark Stevens):

200m I.M 2:41.02 Heat only

100m butterfly 1:09.13 5th place

200m butterfly 2:32.03 4th place


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