Champion Samantha shines in Philippines

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From left to right: Martin Bennell, Jo Corben, Tony Corben, Andy Green and Noemie Plumridge

Nomads produce masterclass to seal superb medal haul

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Samantha Britton picked up a fantastic collection of medals at the 7th Iloilo Dinagyang National Age-Group Swimfest.

The 12-year-old, British Filipino, who swims for Havant & Waterlooville, was in outstanding form on her international competition debut in the Philippines.

Before the event, Britton trained with the impressive local club Iloilo Sea Warriors Swimming Club.

She worked under the expert guidance of coach Enot Dutchilla and assistant coach Garcia Rey Dondon.

Training was intensive ahead of the two-day festival and it clearly paid off when it came to the competition.

She exceeded all expectations, securing seven medals in total from 10 races, including two golds – one in the 200m individual medley and one in the 200m freestyle.

It was a remarkable performance and an experience to cherish for Britton.

She was cheered on by a great crowd, including Philippines-based members of her family who she hadn’t previously met.

Britton said: ‘The thing I enjoyed the most was meeting everyone – my family and members of the swimming club.

‘Everyone competing in the festival was so friendly.

‘We were all waiting together in between races and congratulating each other.

‘I wasn’t expecting much because training was really hard.

‘I was quite surprised how fast I was in the races.

‘To get the medals was an amazing feeling.

‘When they called out the winning names they said “and the champion is”.

‘That made me think “I am a champion”.

‘My family were so happy, my grandma was crying.

‘Having the medals on my desk every day reminds me of all the people I met there who helped me.’

Britton’s success was even more remarkable because she had to adapt to long-course swimming for the event.

It’s a big change with less turns but the swimmer, from Horndean, clearly thrived in the conditions.

She said: ‘I had done a little bit of long course before.

‘With the training before the event I was trying to get used to it.

‘Now I’m back on short course again and I really want to get back on long course!’

The atmosphere was electric for the swimming festival – hosted at a big sports complex.

Parents Karl and Hazel, who is from the Philippines, were really proud to see the way their daughter performed on the big stage.

Karl said: ‘I probably made a fool of myself, jumping around on the balcony – doing the whole proud dad thing.

‘It was a fantastic experience.

‘We had 20 or 30 family members there and everyone was so proud.

‘The stadium is raised up above the pool.

‘It’s a bit like the theatre of Rome.The sports complex is huge.

‘The atmosphere was totally electric and the trip could not have gone any better.’

In the future, there could be more opportunities for Britton to compete on the international stage.

She has already received positive news from the Philippine Aquatic Sports Association.

Karl said: ‘Samantha was training level one out there so that was a bit of a shock at first.

‘The coach was fantastic, though. He seemed to know everything there is to know about swimming.

‘He was so chuffed with her performances.

‘The Philippines ASA have said they would use her in Europe, if she gets qualifying times down the line. That’s pretty special.’