Northsea quick off the blocks

Amber Lloyd in under-13 butterfly action. Picture: Mick Young 132665-12
Amber Lloyd in under-13 butterfly action. Picture: Mick Young 132665-12
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There was no sign of nerves as Portsmouth Northsea A quickly adjusted to life in their new surroundings.

The squad dived into new waters with relish after winning promotion to National Arena League south – division one west last season.

They were unsure what would lie in store for them at Reading in their opening meet.

Northsea also had several swimmers missing from the team but they rose to the occasion, picking up a superb second place.

Powerhouses Newbury took the victory.

They came down into the divifrom the premier last year and, as expected, look to be a classy outfit.

The meet was hosted by Tilehurst, with Dorking, Farnham and Winchester City Penguins also in action.

Despite problems with the blocks which were like glass, with no grip on the surface affecting several swimmers, Northsea went on to win a total of 17 races on the night.

The Portsmouth team worked hard to keep pace with Newbury and enjoyed victories from Max Burnell, Oliver Kincart, Sarah Owen, Will Barnes, Luke Robins, Neil Redman, James Millar and Will Condron.

But they had slipped to 20 points behind the leaders with just five races to go.

Northsea were far from out of it, though.

Five straight wins from the final five relay races meant they managed to reduce the gap to just 13 points, which could prove to be crucial heading into gala two in four weeks time.

Meanwhile, on home water Portsmouth Northsea B kicked off their National Arena League campaign by clinching victory in the final event of their south – division two west gala.

The squad stepped up to the mark in front of a packed and noisy crowd at the Mountbatten Centre on Saturday.

For the first time since the 50m pool opened, the roof was raised by the electric atmosphere.

For many of the home talents it was their maiden selection in the league.

They raced hard but despite winning five of the opening 10 races, Northsea trailed Chalfont Otters by one point.

However, an impressive run of victories put them a point ahead.

Ellie Fletcher and Joe Hendry took backstroke wins, Jack Keeler and Will Pointon were dominant in fly, while another backstroke victory from James Corrigan gave Northsea the lead at the halfway stage.

With just two events remaining, Chalfont had stormed back to earn a narrow lead over Northsea and it all came down to the open 6x50m freestyle relays.

The sound was deafening and the atmosphere electric as both teams and spectators were on their feet screaming.

Northsea took second place behind Windsor in both the men’s and women’s races, giving them the points they needed to turn the match around and clinch overall victory.