Guernsey Press

Stars shine in ‘splash and dash’ excitement

INTER-CLUB swimming competition is back after a long drought during and after lockdown – and you did not have to be Charlie-Joe Hallett or Laura Le Cras to appreciate that.

Laura Le Cras did the treble in the three disciplines in which she competed. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29724924)

On a Saturday that would have marked the start of the home Island Games had they not been delayed due to Covid, those two Guernsey Swimming Club stars were taking the preponderance of victories in the Gasa 50m Sprint Gala.

But a stream of personal best performances across the four disciplines at the St Sampson’s Pool showed a competitive hunger throughout the age groups.

The elder Hallett brother – young Ronny was back from Mount Kelly school in Devon and also competing – ultimately made the biggest impression of any competitor.

Charlie-Joe whitewashed the opposition, starting with a decent butterfly of 26.10sec. to take the win from Barracudas’ Will Russell, who clocked 26.75.

But there was an age-group record performance just behind from Owain Edwards, who is new to the island and recently joined Barracudas. Edwards swam 26.77 to beat a gala record of Miles Munro pedigree in the 15-year-olds age group.

Charlie-Joe backed this up by topping a GSC podium in the backstroke – he won clearly in 27.65 as Samuel Lowe and Ronny Hallett dipped under 29sec.

Then came a record of his own in the breaststroke – his specialist discipline.

The Commonwealth Games hopeful swam an impressive 28.68 to lead in his younger brother and Russell, beating his own standard from last year.

Finally, in the blue-riband freestyle, Charlie-Joe signed off with a winning performance of 24.27.

But a battle raged for second and Ronny took that honour with a sub-25 swim – just ahead of Russell and another Barracuda, sprint specialist Jonny Beck.

Charlie-Joe has long held the spotlight as Guernsey’s top senior swimmer but after a treble of top-three finishes, young Ronny admitted that he too has Birmingham 2022 in his sights.

This follows a patch of good training – but limited competition – while in the UK.

‘It’s great to have some competition at the end of the day and it feels good to be in the pool in general, to be honest,’ Ronny said ahead of ideally competing at this month’s ‘Regionals’.

Ronny Hallett competing in his home island at the weekend after returning from Mount Kelly school. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29724914)

‘Mount Kelly has been great and it has really impacted my swimming – it has progressed my 100m and that’s more my aim at the moment.

‘Hopefully I can get that long-course time [1-04.91 for 100m breaststroke] for the Commonwealth Games.’

Among the women, GSC’s Le Cras won all three disciplines she contested, but she did not go unpressured against a pool of strong Barracudas swimmers.

In the butterfly, she finished in 29.47 to win a race that went to the touch.

She escaped the reaches of two threatening Barracudas – Oriana Wheeler finished just 0.15sec. behind with Molly Staples also cracking 30.

Those two Barracudas featured in an even closer finish over the backstroke as Wheeler won in 32.22 to Staples’ 32.27. Clubmate Madelaine Russell followed in 32.80.

Le Cras returned to winning ways in her focal breaststroke event, leaving herself a lot more breathing room with her 34.60 finish.

That gave her nearly 1.5sec. on Wheeler and further still on third-placed Jemima Green of Barracudas.

The freestyle whipped up another thriller – Le Cras again proved triumphant, clocking 28.32, but with just 0.08sec. on swift Barracuda Staples and with Wheeler a close third.

Meanwhile, Darragh Lee proved a dominant force in the masters’ 25-plus events, winning all four and emerging with a new class backstroke record of 33.81.

Gasa’s Chris Butt hailed the day as a big success.

‘Today would have been the start of the Island Games, so for us to be able to host an inter-club competition is absolutely fantastic,’ he said.

‘Fifty metres is always exciting – splash and dash in all the age groups, and there were some really good PBs and a few records that have gone.

‘It just continues to prove that after lockdown, our swimmers have managed to keep their training up to peak performance.’