There was an exciting finish to the Hampshire Swimming Championships at the Mountbatten Centre last weekend.
Portsmouth Northsea, Havant and Fareham Nomads put in strong performances to conclude the competition which started on January 23.
Havant & Waterlooville picked up a colossal 108 medals, including 50 golds, at this year’s championships to record their greatest-ever return.
‘I feel relieved,’ said head coach Graham Pople.
‘I demand a lot from my swimmers and I demand a lot from the parents so what they put in is what I get out in terms of results.’
He added: ‘The sacrifices the swimmers and their families make have been rewarded.’
Pople picked out Luke Pullen and Rory Huggins who won 25 medals between them for praise, while the star performer was Alaina Ward.
The 15-year-old talent took home 18 gold medals across the backstroke, freestyle and medley categories.
‘She went through the medal table like a medal machine,’ added Pople.
‘Luke was able to get in to some senior finals at the age of 13.
‘And Rory excelled at everything he did. I had to start taking him out of finals because he made so many.’
The coach believes the event can propel his most talented athletes to greater heights.
‘It’s really given them not just the confidence but the drive to look at nationals now,’ said Pople.
‘If they keep training hard we know they will achieve faster times.’
Fareham Nomads head coach Stewart Crowe was satisfied with the way his swimmers performed.
The Nomads blew their 2015 medal total of four out of the water as they collected a great tally of 39 this year.
‘The overall performance was very pleasing,’ Crowe said.
‘We’ve had more qualifiers, more individual swims, we’ve won more medals and we’ve had more final placings.’
Crowe gave special praise to Alexander Finch, who won 50m breaststroke gold, and Clive Marquis who, despite falling short of the medals, smashed his personal best.
The coach added: ‘Fincher is a promising youngster, while a four-second improvement in a 50m pool is very pleasing for Clive. He had an exceptionally good swim.’
Crowe was presiding over his final championships as head coach before stepping down to make way for current assistant coach, John Molyneaux.
He said: ‘I’ve been connected with the club for nearly 30 years and so now it’s time for someone else.
‘I’m more than confident he is the right man for the job.’
Portsmouth Northsea performed well, bringing in a massive total of 157 medals this year.
This equated to 49 gold, 54 silver, 54 bronze across age group, youth and disability which was a fantastic improvement of PNSC’s haul last year of 132.
Head coach Paul Hogg was impressed with a great club performance, with many of the swimmers including Kieran Allsop, Elizabeth Hopkins, James Miller and George Ragg-Griffith all in inspired form.
He sees the event as a stepping stone for what is to come.
‘We always do really well and I think we’ve done well again but we’re really aiming for the Olympic trials,’ he said.
‘The guys are exactly where they want to be at this point in the season.’