Ledbury swimmers started their New Year with great promise when they hosted the first round of the Wyvern League that saw fellow teams from Chepstow, Cwmbran, Mon-mouth and Worcester provide two hours of exciting competition.

From the first event it was clear that all teams were fielding their A swimmers with Worcester showing their strength as the biggest club in the league winning the first three relay races with a determined Ledbury battling to keep in the points with second places.

events five and six the 10 years 25m backstroke, gave the Ledbury supporters plenty to shout about with winning swims from Heather Farmer and Thomas Stokes, in new personal best times. Thomas continued his success by winning the 11 years 50m backstroke and the 10 years 25m butterfly events.

Charlie Scott Wilson, who has shown great improvement in the recent freestyle long distance club championships, made the switch to breaststroke sprints look easy when she won the 11/u 50m race with a two second pb. Another successful 11-year-old was Alison Pudge in the 50m freestyle, with a winning time of 34.27 a county championship qualifying time.

Luke Rycroft the current fastest swimmer in the 13/u age group on all strokes, was kept busy covering a total of seven swims. His efforts were well rewarded with new best times in the 50m butterfly (third) and the 50m breaststroke which he won. Chloe Watson, also in the 13/u age group continued her great form from last year with a win in the 50m freestyle in a new pb and a great swim in the 50m fly, finishing third but knocking almost three seconds off her best time.

Lucinda Houghton swam a good two lengths of backstroke and although nudged into third place was happy with a new best time. James Middleton and George Bennion are two up and coming breaststroke stars, both still only nine, George swam in the 11/u race gaining a very creditable third place and James in the 10 years race where he lost the touch to be awarded second, both of them setting new personal best times.

Josie Rycroft, determined that her brother shouldn't have all the glory, proved herself to be a steely competitor in the 10 yrs 25m butterfly, recorded a time of 20.30 a marked improvement, whilst Hannah Bloxsome swimming the same event in the 11years age group stormed a 18.23, a new best time and taking second place.

Thomas James and Sarah Bethell both swam well in the 15/u 100m backstroke events, with the introduction of new rules governing the turns, both swimmers had every reason for extra nerves but both were fine and both recorded new personal best times.

This was a nerve wracking night for the new 9 year olds, swimming as part of the team for the very first time. The freestyle girls, Lucy Stokes, Patty Holloway, Olivia Hunt and Annabel Dereham showed just how well they have perfected their skills with all of them performing great dives and disciplined finishes and most importantly fast swimming, with great support from the older swimmers they finished six seconds ahead of the closest rivals, Worcester.

Waiting for the next race the boys Joe Bloxsome, Alex Allen, David Middleton and Bradley Smith were determined to match the girls. Demonstrating good race technique, all swam under 19 seconds and fought off extremely tough competition from Worcester to win with a second to spare! In both the medley relays, Liam Almond and Patty Holloway swam a fast backstroke, followed by very gutsy breaststroke swims from George Parsons and Emma Fitzpatrick, the butterfly was superbly swum by Joe Bloxsome and Lucy Stokes leaving Alex Allen and Annabel Dereham to finish the race on freestyle.

In this race Annabel showed her fighting spirit having dived in at least a metre down she resolved to hold her breathing and with less than five metres to the finish she overtook to claim first place for Ledbury.

Other winning relay teams were, the 10/u boys freestyle and medley, Thomas Stokes, George Bennion, Patrick Blake, and Bradley Smith and the 11/u boys medley, George Cusworth, James Middleton, Arron Almond and Ruari Smith Cooper.

Final result was Worcester 271 points, Ledbury 247, Monnow 237, Chepstow 160 and Cwmbran 128.

Head coach Viv Jones said: "I am pleased with all the team, no mistakes, no disqualifications and the new nine year olds were outstanding, the whole team and poolside staff were delighted with them and of course they provided very valuable maximum 24 points.

"We have only had four training sessions since the Christmas break and I am confident after a few more sessions, fitness will be regained and we will see even better swimming in the next round."