Swimmers from Pioneer 79 Swimming Club braved the unpredictable weather to compete in the NW Regional Open Water Swimming Championships recenlty.

John McKavett, 17, was the first to hit the water at Salford Quays, competing in the open 3000m event.

With six laps of the 500m course to complete, he maintained a great pace, keeping a continuous battle going with Stockport Metro's long distance swimmer Heather Lawson.

McKavett finished the race first in the Male Category, in a National Open Water Qualifying time of 44.49mins. This now means that he is eligible to compete in Sheffield later this month at the National Championships.

Not only did he take the gold medal for the NW Region, he also collected a gold medal for the Lancashire County title.

The next race was the girls 1500m. In this event, the four Pioneer 79 girls, Olivia Nicholls, 13, Alice Harding, Eleanor Collin and Meghann Leaver (all aged 14) were competing in their respective age groups.

For two of the girls, Alice Harding and Meghann Leaver, it was their first attempt at an open water competition. Understandably, nerves set in when the swimmers were told they could enter the water in order to warm up, but they were soon comfortable with their 'new' surroundings.

The girls then lined up ready to start, when the referee blew the whistle to get their attention – Alice misread the instruction and dived in, only to realise that it wasn't the starting whistle.

With her heart pumping, she was concerned that she had been disqualified before she had even started.

However, she was fine, she had managed to scramble back onto the jetty in time for the starters hooter! The race got under way, with a sudden wave of white water, the girls were battling to get to the front and lead the way.

The race consisted of three laps of the large open water area, a long way looking from the quayside, let alone from in the water.

The girls did exceptionally well, Alice Harding was the first of the Pioneer 79 girls to finish, completing the course in 21.51mins, taking the bronze medal in her age group for the North West Region – along with a silver medal in the Lancashire County Championship.

Next to finish was Meghann Leaver, in 22.33mins taking fourth position in the North West Region and the bronze medal in the Lancashire County Championship.

Eleanor Collin completed the course in a time of 23.14mins finishing fifth overall in the North West Region and fourth position in the Lancashire County Championship – unfortunately just missing out on the medals on this occasion.

In the 13 year age group, Olivia Nicholls swam a very strong race, battling it out all the way to the finish with a couple of other swimmers, finishing in a time of 23.47mins, taking fifth position in her age group in the NW Region, however, taking the silver medal in the Lancashire County Championship.

“It was event that Pioneer 79 Swimming Club members have not competed in before,” said club spokesman Suzanne Brown.

“However, after such an enjoyable experience and achieving fantastic results, our 5 swimmers will be back to compete in the North West Racing Series.”

A challenge that many more Pioneer 79 swimmers may decide to undertake in the future.