A FINE performance from James Escolme was one of the highlights when a strong contingent of Kendal swimmers entered the latest round of Regional Championships for the 14 years and under age group in Manchester this week.

Competing in the 400 individual medley and 200 and 50m breaststroke events, where he had high hopes of winning his first regional medal, he opened his account with the 200.

He started well in the qualifier and stayed just behind Blackpool’s Matthew Charlesworth, holding his nerve and qualifying in second place with a time of 2:52.89.

The final saw Charlesworth again take an early lead but Escolme increased the pressure and got his nose in front of Stockport’s Kyle Briers, then he called on all his reserves to edge out Briers and snatch silver in a personal best time of 2:51.01.

Slotted between the heats and final he had to take on the gruelling 400 individual medley in which he produced a remarkable performance of all round swimming to take sixth place in 5:30.30.

And Escolme’s 50m breaststroke sprint was to bring more excitement as he clocked a 36.60 time to take him into the final as the second fastest qualifier, again behind Charlesworth who set a mark three seconds faster than Escolme.  However the Kendal swimmer refused to give up, matching the favourite stroke for stroke and it was only on the final touch that Escolme was edged out and had to settle for silver with both swimmers recording 34 second times.  The 200 individual medley saw Escolme reach the final in a time of 2:32.55 and in a tight three way finish, he was just edged out into bronze position, though he did lower his personal best to 2:30.06.

Escolme then just missed the 100m breaststroke final with a time of 1:15.05 then in the 50 butterfly another powerful swim took him into 13th place in 32.29.

The final session commenced with the 100 breaststroke, where he qualified in 4th place in 1:23.34 and safely made the final, where he got himself another Bronze medal with a brilliant time of 1:19.06.

In between these swims, Escolme took on the 200 Backstroke where he settled for a 10th place in 2:36.16.  Matthew Foster, making his debut at the Regionals in the 50 butterfly, got a great start and quickly found his rhythm.

Into the pressure zone, he made one more effort which brought him a precious 8th place and a time of 34.57 to qualify for the final, where he put in another great effort to swim up to his heat time in 34.95 which was absolutely superb at this level.

Sophie Roberts, 13, made her opening at this level with a magnificent swim in the 50 butterfly.  She got her usual immaculate start and transition and swam a fantastic race to hit the finishing line in a time of 31.80 but was one of eight swimmers all on the same 31 time and so just missed out on the final.  Roberts then produced another terrific display in the 50 freestyle sprint, where she charged down the pool hitting the pads in 30.22 and found herself in 14th place. However, with a 40 strong field and with 14 swimmers all having a time of 30, she was very unlucky in just missing a place in the final by a fraction.