A COACH has challenged his swimmers to use their performances in the pool over the past month as a marker to beat in the future.

Northwich Centurions brought back fewer medals at this year’s Cheshire County and Age Group Championships than they did in 2018 but more members of their contingent reached a final or ranked inside the top-eight.

“We reflect in an ‘always happy but never satisfied’ kind of way,” said head coach Simon Pickering.

“That highlights positives while at the same time identifies areas to address in training so they can improve.”

Kyle Hawkins took silver in the under 15s boys’ 200m breaststroke after timing 2:41.36, missing out on gold by just sixth hundredths of a second.

He returned to the water the same day and ranked fourth in the 100m final for the same stroke.

Fifth in the 200m individual medley completed a solid showing.

Madeline Pratt took bronze after setting the third-fastest time in the under 16s girls’ 200m freestyle at Macclesfield, clocking 2:18.31.

Eleanor Ma narrowly missed out on a medal in the under 13s girls’ 100m butterfly final and was fourth too in the 100m individual medley.

She continued a busy and consistent showing by finishing fifth in the 100m breaststroke final.

Ma occupied the same position on the time-sheet following the 800m freestyle and was eighth in the 200m breaststroke.

The points scored from taking sixth in the 200m individual medley made her the seventh-best performer overall in her age-group category.

Evie Paget shaved close to two tenths of a second from her heat time to rank fourth in the under 12s girls’ 50m butterfly, improving to 35.59s in the final.

Meanwhile Laila Johnson was fifth in the under 14s girls’ 200m butterfly and Ella Richardson finished eighth in the under 15s girls’ 50m freestyle.

Pickering said: “For us it’s not just about getting swimmers to county or regional standard.

“Our ultimate aim is to help them set their own goals to work towards.

“That could be winning a medal, reaching a final or achieving a particular time.

“My job is to inspire them to improve because that’s a great lesson for life.”

Curiously, success for a handful of Northwich swimmers was fuelled in part by what they had for breakfast.

Pickering counted four of them, all contesting the 50m backstroke, that satisfied the entry criteria to compete at the regional championships later this year after eating porridge that morning.

“I asked them what they’d had and the answer was the same each time,” he said.

Ma, Johnson, Richardson and Chloe Bedford all smashed their previous personal-best times, meeting the qualifying standard in the process, in the space of a few hours.

And an encouraging county championship concluded with 22 Centurions taking part in relays on the final afternoon.

Aleksandra Neshkova, April Moore, Evie Paget and Tahlia Bowcock impressed when they collected a bronze medal in the under 12s girls’ 4x50m medley, pipping rivals from Winsford.

Pickering reflected: “They produced an astounding performance.”