THE success of Knutsford Vikings swimmers at the Cheshire Championships can inspire their teammates to improve over the next 12 months, according to their coach.

Simon Pickering told the Guardian the club’s aim is for more of their members to qualify for the 2019 edition.

He said: “With a review and then tweaks of the training and competition programme to be implemented, we can be optimistic of making that happen.”

Vikings sent a team consisting of 13 boys and girls to Macclesfield for three weekends of competition, and between them they collected eight medals as a reward for a top-three finish.

Across 67 races, they recorded 50 personal-best times too.

Pickering added: “I’m delighted with how things went, particularly seeing so many lifetime bests.

“We also had several swimmers make it through to the finals, and in some cases collecting a medal which ranks them among the strongest in the county.”

Abigail Comline finished as runner-up in the under 15s girls’ 50m freestyle final, and claimed bronze for the same stroke over 100m.

On both occasions she set times that satisfy the criteria to compete at the regional championships in May.

She reached the final too for her age-group in the 50m butterfly and 100m breaststroke, finishing eighth and sixth respectively.

James Petty was another to shine, and returned home with a silver medal in the under 15s boys’ 200m breaststroke.

He stood on the podium as well after classifying third in the 50m breaststroke final.

The teenager reached three other finals, and like Comline has qualified to compete at north west level in four disciplines.

Louis Thomas did not get his hands on a medal, but his performance in the under 16s boys’ 50 freestyle – finishing seventh in the final – was fast enough to secure entry to the regionals too.

Another Vikings member, Lucy Williams, was sixth in the under 12s girls’ 100m backstroke final.

Pickering added: It’s an individual sport about solo performances, but the team were professional throughout and I was impressed with their spirit.

“The next step is for those swimmers that have qualified to get ready for the regionals in May.”

Before that Knutsford host their own distance championships, which includes races over 800m and 1,500m, at the leisure centre next month.

Knutsford have vacancies for new members who have reached Stage 7 of Swim England’s Learn to Swim programme.

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