Monty Smith has won a medley of medals at the recent South East Regional swimming finals in Crawley.
He won 5 golds, 1 silver and 2 bronze in the Under 13 age group. The five golds were won in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 200m backstroke.
Monty, a year 8, Gillotts Student learnt to swim with Tony Potterton at Trinity Trainer Pool aged 3. He then progressed with swimming lessons at Henley Leisure Centre and joined Henley Swimming Club in Year 5 (aged 9). He joined Wycombe District Swimming Club last June after not swimming for nearly 2 years because of Covid.
Monty said, “During lockdown I decided I really wanted to join a competitive swimming club so I did some research and trialled at Wycombe and got into the junior performance squad. I now train most days, with 2 early mornings and 2 land sessions at Wycombe Leisure Centre a week. I’ve got an amazing coach (Joe Evans). He says I’ve still got a lot to learn as I’ve just started. To start with I found the early morning training (Mondays are 5.15am at poolside) a struggle and found keeping awake in classes difficult but now I’m used to it.”
Monty qualified for the Regional finals after swimming qualifying times in the County competition in January this year at Wycombe. He comments, “It wasn’t until I saw the times that I realised I qualified.”
Winning the first gold in the 100m freestyle Monty said, “I was placed in the fourth lane with the quickest time from the heats which puts pressure on you. Some swimmers go all out in the heats and record a good time and then don’t perform in the final. I was few seconds ahead of the second place time and so I just went for it. I was nervous before the first gold win but winning it gave me confidence for the others, particularly as the first final of the day I got disqualified in the 50m backstroke for a false start.
As well as swimming, Monty loves to play football, cricket and rugby; however swimming is his favourite sport. He comments, “It’s exciting to race and you have more adrenalin than on a football pitch because with swimming when things happen you need do your thing. When you start getting better you just want to train more.”
Winning at the Regional final means that Monty will now compete alongside the top 24 in the country in the U14 age group at the British (3 events) and English Nationals (5 events) in July and August in Sheffield. Monty comments, “Most the competitors will be a year older than me so I’m not expecting to do well I’m just going for the experience.”
Monty’s Mum Claire said, “It was absolutely brilliant to be there and cheer and whistle as his first competition we had to watch on Youtube and we were shouting at the TV. I hadn’t realised that the times he set meant he would quality for the British and English National competitions. It is a big commitment but my husband and I share the load.”
Improving how he trains and gaining experience about what to do both before and after the race are Monty’s key areas for improvement as well as improving his start and techniques. Monty comments, “My coach watches me closely in training and when we get out he tells me exactly what I need to change to improve. It’s the little things that make you quicker but he tells me I’ve got good basics.
We wish Monty well for the British and English Nationals in the summer.