SWIMMERS responded to encouragement from their friends at the poolside to set fast times when they made their competitive debut.

That’s the view of Jo Bradshaw, development head coach at Northwich Centurions, after reflecting on the achievements of the club’s most inexperienced youngsters during the latest Satellites Sputniks Meet at Macclesfield.

She said: “It's an event that's about taking in the sights and sounds of a gala away from your home pool and our novices represented us to the highest order with great races and happy faces afterwards.

“They benefitted immeasurably from the support of their teammates, something they used as a spur to set huge personal bests.

“It was wonderful to see them cheering each other on when they weren’t competing and laughing together as a group between races.”

A busy spell for Centurions continued when they also sent a 39-strong team to the Wirral Metro’s Spring Development Meet, held over two days at Europa Pools in Birkenhead.

On the calendar as a stage in their training plan, 10 swimmers made the most of an opportunity to meet the qualifying criteria for next year’s Cheshire County and Age Group Championships.

Between them they made the cut in 43 swims.

“It’s very early to have done so,” said head coach Simon Pickering.

Meanwhile two Northwich members secured a spot at the Swim England North West Summer Regional Championships at the end of this month.

That duo will take part in three events.

A total of 145 personal-best times were set at Wirral, more than 60 per cent of the total races swum.

Pickering added: “We feel proud that most of the team that competed each swam at least a couple of new bests.

“Sometimes that isn’t possible in every race but it makes swimmers resilient and is a great lesson for life.

“While racing is important, the other advantage to galas like that one is that it is an opportunity for everybody to spend time with their friends and enjoy each other's company without distractions.”

The regional summer championships take place over three weekends at Manchester and Liverpool starting on Saturday, April 27.

Centurions swimmers will also be in action at the Peaks and Plains League second round at Crewe Lifestyle Centre the same weekend.