More than 300 swimmers spent their bank holiday weekend in Stevenage at the annual open meet. The Stevenage Open is the largest annual swimming event in North Herts and attracts swimmers from all over the south east competing in 50m and 100m races at the

More than 300 swimmers spent their bank holiday weekend in Stevenage at the annual open meet.

The Stevenage Open is the largest annual swimming event in North Herts and attracts swimmers from all over the south east competing in 50m and 100m races at the Stevenage Swim Centre.

April Lacy, chairman of Stevenage Swimming Club, was delighted with the response and feedback on this year's gala.

"Entries were 25 per cent up on last year with nearly 2,000 swims over the two days and this year we introduced events for nine year olds to encourage some of the younger swimmers," she said.

"While the high level of competition attracts regional and national level swimmers, the Stevenage club encourages entries from swimmers at all levels right down to the novices taking part in their first major gala with trophies awarded the top six in each age group from nine years to the over-16s."

The 70 swimmers representing Stevenage Swimming Club dominated the medal table this year amassing a total of 109 top three finishes and setting new club records.

In the boys' events, 13-year-old Jake Robinson had top two finishes in all nine events winning the 50m breaststroke and all of the 100m events except a second in the freestyle. He was pressed hard in all events by team-mate Joe Lacy who collected two second and four third place trophies.

Jack Jarrett was a winner in the 12 year 50m freestyle with third places in two other events and in the same age group, Sam Vessey won silver in the 50m free and two more third place trophies.

In the 14 year age group, Tom Marsland was the only winner in the 50m breaststroke adding a silver in the 100m event the following day. Other medal winners in the group were Jack Steel with a second in the 50m free and a third in the 100m back, Ben Murphy with thirds in the 50m breast and freestyle races and Paul Spicer who was third in the 50m backstroke.

Shaun Dempsey was the club's best 15-year-old performer with three second place trophies in the 50m breast and the 100m breast and fly, while Tom Ward finished a well-deserved third place in the 100m backstroke.

In the senior section, Greg Lasenby was top performer finishing first in the 50m freestyle, fly and 100m individual medley, and second in the 50m back and breaststroke races. Ross Gillon won the 100m free and was third in IM with Jack George back in the pool to pick up a third in the 50m breaststroke.

Ian Costello may not have won any medals this year, but he demonstrated that being over-35 is no barrier only narrowly losing out in a head-to-head race against his 14-year-old son Matthew in the 50m freestyle.

In the junior boys' events, 11-year-old Joe Mileusnic came out top with a second in the 100m breaststroke and three further 100m third place trophies and there were excellent swims by the three 10-year-olds Zach Wilkinson, Matthew McPherson and Bradley Stewart, with both Bradley and Matthew picking up two medals a piece for top six finishes.

In the nine year age group, Kieran McGowan also picked up a top six medal and the award for Stevenage's top nine-year-old boy.

Stevenage swimmers dominated the girls' events - winning 20 of the events.

Three Stevenage swimmers took part in the nine year age group; Ellie Fogg, Katie Garstang and Fiona Thornton all won top six medals. Ellie added a second place in the 50m fly and third in the IM, but the award for top nine year girl over the two days went to Fiona with five second, two third and two fourth places in the nine events.

Two excellent swims by 10-year-old Jessica Jackson won top spot in both the 100m IM and freestyle events with other trophies being won by Kirsty Hamshere, two silvers in the 50m freestyle and 100m breaststroke plus three third places, Olivia Hazel, third place in the 50m free and Lucy Lapham, third in the 50m fly.

Stevenage had only one medal winner in each of the 12, 14 and 15 year events.

In the 12 year group, Laura Durrant was top swimmer winning third place in the 50m freestyle while Emma Stewart picked up two thirds in both of the 14 year breaststroke events. Lauren Dear came close to winning in the 15 year group but had to settle for two second places in the 50m backstroke and freestyle races.

Carina Bays led the club's 13-year-old swimmers with top three finishes in all nine events. Carina won the 50m fly, 100m IM and both breaststroke events adding two second and three third place finishes. Lucy Crocker had a good weekend picking up two second places behind her team-mate in the breaststroke events and two more thirds.

The senior age group was dominated by two Stevenage swimmers who won all but two events. Katie Heasman won four events, the 50m back and breaststroke and the 100m freestyle and IM events, completing an impressive display by adding four second places.

Rebecca Neil entered three events, the 50m and 100m fly and 50m freestyle and won them all. Helen Rees took three thirds in the 50m backstroke and both breaststroke events and Nicola Shepherd came third in the 100m back.

Eleven-year-old Megan Nation took a second in the 50m fly and third in the 50m freestyle, and Georgia Hazell picked up two thirds in the 100m freestyle and fly.

Over the two days, the best performance of the gala was 11-year-old Christie Bays who won seven out of nine races only missing out on a clean sweep by finishing second and third in the two backstroke events.

In the team event, Biggleswade fought off strong challenges from Hitchin, Canvey Island and Watford to take home the trophy for top visiting club.

The other Stevenage competitors and medal winners were: Josh Andrews, Henry Farman, Cameron Mulvey, David Spicer, Jamal Thompson, Luke Ames, Jack Morton, Simon Herbeck, Tobi Van Zwieten, Max Robinson, Matthew Bull, Sam Gasston, Thomas Lambert, Joe Mahon, Daniel McDonald, Daniel McDermott, Adam Spicer, Charlotte Bott, Kerry Lander, Abigail Lence, Eleanor O'Connor, Zoe Buckley, Alhana Isaac, Danielle Murphy, Nocolien Van Zwieten, Emma England, Emily Gasston, Sian Higgins, Tillie Farman, Rhiannon Gillon and Grace Coventry.