Franks is world champion
PUBLISHED: 15:48 21 February 2008 | UPDATED: 08:50 10 June 2010
EXMOUTH has a new world champion after swimmer Gemma Franks won the ladies' under-30 title at the World Winter Championships in London.
EXMOUTH has a new world champion after swimmer Gemma Franks won the ladies' under-30 title at the World Winter Championships in London.Winter swimming is not a sport for the faint hearted. It is a test of courage, mental strength and sanity that originated in Finland.The championships have traditionally taken place in Finland, but this year they were moved to Tooting Bec lido in south London for the first time.The sport began by cutting a hole in the ice, in which competitors swam. In comparison, the six-degree waters of the lido seemed almost tropical but in reality it was still very cold indeed.Five Exmouth Swimming and Lifesaving Association masters members took part and registered a one-two in the ladies' U-30 event.Swimming the regulation head-up breastroke over 25 metres, Tara Dudley and Franks qualified first and fourth respectively for the U-30 A final. Franks stormed to victory while Dudley touched in second place to complete a remarkable double for Exmouth and Great Britain.Channel swimmer Olly White, more accustomed to cold water, also qualified for the A final in the men's 30-40 age group.Going into the race as fifth fastest, White improved to finish in fourth place, first Brit home behind a trio of cold water specialists from Finland.Ian Lang and Mark Westaway swam in the men's U-30 competition. This was a competitive age group with only tenths separating the majority of swimmers. Westaway narrowly missed out on a place in the finals. Lang finished ninth overall.Westaway tackled the longer challenge of the 60m freestyle and finished in a respectable seventh place. He is preparing for a Channel attempt this summer.Although this was a one-off event in the United Kingdom, the team is considering travelling to Finland next year to defend the world title. Exmouth masters train between 9-10pm on Tuesday and Thursday nights at Exmouth Sports Centre. From Easter onwards the group will meet regularly at Budleigh Salterton. The club's winning streak continued on Saturday night at the first leg of the East Devon Mini-League, which was swum in Exeter.This is a competition held between the same teams over three legs. Exmouth achieved a comfortable first place on 255 points. The team achieved 20 first places.Paignton were second (241pts), Newton Abbot third (213), Torquay fourth (210) and Dawlish fifth (197).The Exmouth swimmers taking part achieved 25 personal-best swims and, it is thought, the boys' 14-and-under medley and freestyle teams have set new club records with their times. Head coach Dave Smith said: "Well done to the whole team. A fantastic result from a brilliant team effort."First places were achieved by: Daisy O'Loughlin (2), Finbar Roberts (2), Sam Gard, Jake Gilbody, Jake Stuart, Will Flinn, Jack Moss, Hamilton Easton, Richard Barnard, Boys' (U14) medley (Jake Stuart, Oly Daw, Edward Taylor and James Flockhart); girls' U16 medley (Rachael Cooper, Daisy O'Loughlin, Sam Gard and Zoe Moss); Boys' U16 medley (Hamilton Easton, Oly Daw, Finbar Roberts and Edward Taylor); U12 freestyle and medley (Ross Warburton, Owen Flinn, Jake Gilbody and Jack Moss); Boys' U16 freestyle (Jake Stuart, Finbar Roberts, Hamilton Easton and James Flockhart); Girls' U12 freestyle (Martha Ellett, Elzani Singleton, Eve Birrell and Isabell Mitchell); boys' U14 freestyle (Jake Stuart, James Flockhart, Hamilton Easton and Edward Taylor). Mixed B Cannon (Amber Morrison, Richard Barnard, Elzani Singleton, Jake Gilbody, Kezia Smith, Hamilton Easton, Zoe Moss and Jake Stuart).