Walter’s Winter (Nationals) Wonderland Dec 2018

Dunstable Swimming Club’s captain, Walter Hackett, stepped up to the big stage at Swim England’s Winter National Championships in Sheffield’s Pond’s Forge International Sports Centre last weekend. The 15 year old, who in the summer became a triple Gold Medallist at the East Region Championships, qualified for all three distances in backstroke at the national competition.

Swimming against the top competitors across the country, Hackett first swam on the Friday in the 200 metres backstroke. Setting off at a blistering pace, he led at the halfway point, eventually finishing second in his heat. As qualification for the finals is across all age groups, they are virtually all populated by senior swimmers. Hackett’s time of 2 minutes 7 seconds, a personal best, earned him 9th position in the Junior Championship and a new all-time Bedfordshire Junior record.

On the Saturday, following his carefully planned pre-pool and swim warm up, Hackett swam in his favourite event, the 50 metres backstroke. Knocking 0.4 seconds off his previous personal best, he achieved an astonishing time of 26.80 seconds. This placed him 6th in the Junior Championship and achieved another all-time Bedfordshire Junior record.

The final day of the competition saw him swim in the 100 metres backstroke. The focussed training on the underwater phase of his starts and turns was paying off. Slicing another 0.7 seconds off his previous best Hackett hit the wall in a time of 57.72 seconds, his third Bedfordshire Junior record of the weekend and earning him 8th position nationally.

Back in Dunstable, club members were watching Hackett’s swim on the YouTube live feed and supporting him via the Swim England Twitter account. Without fail the commentators mention the fantastic support the Dunstable swimmer has.

Coach Tim Hutton said “It’s fabulous to see Walter’s dedication and hard work in training paying off in such big competitions against elite clubs from across the nation. It’s so inspiring for the younger swimmers to see us competing at this level. After over eighteen months without our home pool we are looking forward to the reopening of Dunstable Leisure Centre in Spring 2019 and the improved swimming and land training facilities this will bring to the club”.

Walter returned home after these championships fired up and looking forward to the start of the long-course season with the Bedfordshire County Championships in January, followed by the British Championships in Tollcross, Glasgow next April.

[Picture: Hackett, in the blue Dunstable hat, starts the 50 metres backstroke]