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Bicester Blue Fins make waves at the National Age Group Swimming Championships and end the season on a high!

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2013 has been the most successful year in the club’s long history. Since 1950, Bicester Blue Fins Swimming Club has been at the heart of the local community, offering an opportunity to learn-to-swim for young children and a competitive swimming environment for all ages. Over the past four years, the club’s focus has moved from being a local club with some good competitive swimmers, to a very highly tuned club delivering a professional performance programme led by the Head Coaches, Craig and Kirsten Pankhurst. Both Craig and Kirsten are from a very competitive background having been International swimmers themselves and it is that ethos, drive and determination that is being driven through the club. 

To say that 2013 has been a season which has exceeded expectation is an understatement. Bicester Blue Fins has had swimmers compete at Regional level previously, but as a club, have never had a swimmer win a Regional medal. That changed in 2013 with both Kieran Bird and Tom Thornley picking up gold medals and becoming Regional Champions. Their performances at the South East Regional Championships in June meant that they qualified for the National Age Group Championships at the end of July. This is something that the club has aspired to achieve for the past 63 years without success. 

Following the successes in the pool in June, both Kieran and Tom were put on a very structured performance programme to ensure that they were as prepared as they could possibly be for the National Championships. Both swimmers arrived at the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield last week focussed and with a quiet determination to perform well, and perform well they did. 

Tom Thornley opened up the 2013 ASA National Age-Group Championships for Bicester Blue Fins with a fantastic PB in the 100 Backstroke. After winning Gold in the South East Regional Swimming Championships in June in a time of 1:06.91, he smashed that and went 1:05.85 ranking him 16th in the Country and still the fastest 13/u boy in the region. 

Kieran Bird has opened his attack on the 2013 ASA National Age-Group Championships with an unbelievable 200 Fly Heat. After winning Gold in the South East Regional Swimming Championships in this event in a time of 2:20.91, he swam a heat time of 2:17.50 ranking him the fastest British competitor into the final and 3rd overall. The final was an epic encounter, with Kieran finishing in 2nd place with another PB of 2:15.96 and a National Silver Medal. Kieran also qualified for the 200IM final after another significant PB. 

Tom's second event, the 100 Freestlye, is the most competitive event to make the final in. Following a Gold medal performance in the South East Regional Swimming Championships with a time of 58.67 which placed him 14th at the start of the event, Tom swam a heat time of 57.28 - over a 1 second PB again in a 100 event, to gain a place in the Final. In that Final, Tom improved his PB again to swim a 56.78 and finish 5th. An amazing achievement. 

The final swim for Kieran was the 100 Fly, where his PB of 1:04.79 ranked him outside of the top 10. However, in the heat, his time of 1:03.90 ensured a final place. Tom’s final swim was the 200 Freestyle where he was again ranked outside the top 10. Tom lowered his PB by over 2 seconds to make the final. Both Kieran and Tom swam faster in both finals lowering both of their PB’s further. 

Craig and Kirsten Pankhurst said ‘what both these boys have achieved this season has been remarkable. Their dedication to achieve their best is without question. We are looking forward to coaching Kieran and Tom next season and building on their successes this season. They have been an inspiration to the entire club, and their success will breed further success for the swimmers and the club as a whole. Well done lads!’ 

If you would like information about Bicester Blue Fins, please contact Mandy Bird, Honorary Secretary on

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