Rising swimming stars show potential

TEAM Ipswich have established a seemingly unassailable lead in the battle for top club after the second weekend of the Suffolk County swimming championships.

TEAM Ipswich have established a seemingly unassailable lead in the battle for top club after the second weekend of the Suffolk County swimming championships.

Yet more top-class competition provided further evidence that competitive swimming in Suffolk is entering a really exciting stage in the build up to the London 2012 Olympics, with star performances in particular from 14-year-old Lewis Coleman (Team Ipswich) and 12-year-old Ellis Jackson (St Felix School).

Coleman looks to have every chance of competing at the highest level in the future. His weekend started with a win in the 12 to 14 years 50m Freestyle in 26.20. In the 200m Breaststroke he became county champion with a time of 2.27.79, an incredible 12 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

In the 14 and under 100m Butterfly Coleman won with a time of 1.00.67. He also took silver in the 200m Freestyle, just 12 hundredths of a second behind Chris Taylor (Team Ipswich) in 1.58.48, and won the 14 and under 100m Freestyle Final in a time of 55.24.

Coleman's medal-winning performances were capped off with a stunning 200m Individual Medley swim to take the County Championship title in a time of 2.14.61.

Meanwhile, Jackson continued her amazing form from the previous weekend, winning the 12 to 14 years 50m Backstroke in 31.59, the 13 and under 100m Butterfly in 1.08.05, the 13 and under 100m Freestyle in 1.00.58 and becoming County Champion in the 800m Freestyle in 9.05.65. Jackson has an incredible range of events and distances and could well make the London Olympics in 2012.

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The girls' 50m Freestyle title was won by Zoe Cray (Team Ipswich) in a time of 26.39. Cray had earlier set a new East Region record in the heats of 26.35.

She continued in medal-winning form by taking the 50m Backstroke title in a time of 29.20, the 100m Butterfly in 30.35 and the 100m Freestyle county title in a time 56.55.

In a thrilling 15 and over 50m Freestyle final, a fingertip finish saw Matt Vinter (Team Ipswich) take the county title in 24.28 from Shaun Harrison (Stowmarket) in a time of 24.34. The 11 and under boys winner was Kilian Korth (Team Ipswich) in 31.28.

The girls' 50m Freestyle final was won by Bethan Bottomley (West Suffolk) in 30.70 and the 12 to 14 years final went to Sophie Chamberlain (Lowestoft and Oulton Broad).

The boys 15 and over 50m Backstroke final resulted in a win for Simon Morley (West Suffolk) in 27.45, with Ashley Buck (Sudbury), on his return to the championships after a three-year lay-off, taking silver in 28.50.

The 12 to 14 year Final saw Will Blackaby (Stowmarket) win gold in 31.29 and Kilian Korth (Team Ipswich) repeating his 50m Freestyle win by taking gold in the 11 and under 50m Backstroke final in a time of 34.87.

The 100m Butterfly titles were won by Mark Stevens (Deben) and Zoe Cray (Team Ipswich) in times of 58.98 and 1.05.14 respectively.

The boys' 800m Freestyle event gave everybody another opportunity to see a classy distance swim from Lawrence Lowman (Lowestoft & Oulton Broad) doubling up on his 1500m win from last week, cruising home to the county title with a time of 8.27.33.

The climax of the weekend came in the Blue Riband event, the 100m Freestyle final. Brothers Shaun and David Harrison (Stowmarket) competed in the most thrilling of races where at the 50m mark, David had a slight lead of just seven hundreths of a second - however Shaun powered through over the last 50m to win the county title in 53.86 with David taking silver in 54.33.

Team Ipswich's nearest competitors for top club are the young squad of swimmers from St Felix School, who have emerged from virtually nowhere in competitive terms over the last two years, a real tribute to their coach Sue Purchase.

Deben Swimming Club also had another very successful weekend at the championships. Their highlights of the weekend included the boys' 15/16 years Freestyle Relay team winning gold, with a team of Mark Stevens, Ben Davies, George Rudland and Matthew Naunton.

Mark Stevens also won the 100m Butterfly in a time of 58.98, achieving a national qualifying time. Alice Tennant finished second in the 100m Freestyle final, with a time of 1.00.83, and also achieved a national qualifying time.

Deben, thanks to a further six qualifying swims, now has its highest-ever number of regional qualifying times.