Tigers earn their stripes

Sam Sterry won three gold medals at the British Summer Championships in Sheffield Picture: MORGAN HARLOW/BRITISH SWIMMING

TIGERS Swimming Club has once again excelled on the national and international scene, marking this current crop as ‘the strongest we have ever been’, accordingly to head coach Nathan Jegou.

It was a Jersey pair of fledgling 15-year-olds who came of age in separate locations.

Filip Nowacki swam the race of his life in the 200m breaststroke final at the European Youth Olympics in Slovenia.

His time of 2mins 16.05secs toppled a British age-group record as well as the junior and senior Island records in Jersey.

The teenager would finish in second, an agonising 0.07secs behind Portugal’s Rafael Ferreira Mimoso.

Meanwhile, slightly closer to home, Sam Sterry was creating his own piece of history at the British Summer Championships in Sheffield.

The Tigers swimmer made the freestyle discipline his own under the watchful gaze of Jegou, as he claimed three national titles in the 16 years 400m, 800m and 1500m, beating the previous Island junior records in all of his victories.

He joined an elite group of swimmers who have now won multiple national titles at a single meet.

Jegou said: ‘I think they all stepped up in a big way.

‘You never know what to fully expect. You train all year round for this period of events and you hope all the team go out and perform.

‘I’m pretty positive that everyone will be happy with their performances of late.’

Elsewhere, there were plenty of other Islanders creating their own storylines.

Also in Sheffield was Matthew Deffains, who claimed bronze in the 200m freestyle, eclipsing his own club record and personal best in the process.

He would also secure another bronze in the 400m freestyle with a huge personal best, in the same race that Sterry was crowned champion.

Meanwhile, in Slovenia with Nowacki, Isaac Thompson smashed his personal best by two whole seconds in the 100m backstroke, finishing in seventh, which would have been good enough for a final appearance.

However, with the one-nation rule in effect, Great Britain could have only one representative in the final, causing the Caesarean to miss out.

Clara Ginnis and Megan Hansford were also raising the bar in Sheffield, off the back of a successful Island Games.

Ginnis had never made a British Championships prior to this year but managed to secure a top-ten finish.

Hansford had previously never made a British final, a statistic she managed to change this year.

City of Leicester swimmer Oscar Dodds, who crafted his trade with Tigers prior to his move to the mainland, added a 200m backstroke gold during the meet, his first ever title at that level.

Jegou added: ‘There are all these little sub-stories for the club, to go along with the British titles and records.

‘At Tigers, we just want to provide our swimmers with the platform to continue growing.

‘Whether that is with us, or with a university programme, really doesn’t matter, we just want to see them achieve their goals and aspirations.’

All in all, 18 members of Tigers qualified for either the British or English National Championships for 2023.

If swimmers that are now at boarding school or university are factored in, that number rises to 20.

‘As a squad, we are as strong as we have ever been,’ Jegou said.

‘When you have so many people performing at a high level, it just pushes everyone else on to work a little harder.

‘From my perspective it has been the most successful period since I have been involved.

‘I think the togetherness has made that happen, rather than just talent alone.’

There is little time for the coach to rest, as he travels to Trinidad and Tobago for the Commonwealth Youth Games.

His swimmers make up six of the nine-strong Jersey squad selected, while triathletes Luke Holmes and Siena Stephens also train with Tigers.

The six teenagers chosen to swim for Jersey are: Sterry (15), Nowacki (15), Thompson (15), Deffains (16), Hansford (16) and Dodds (17).

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