LEDBURY started the new season by finishing sixth out of the 31 clubs at the Exeter open level one meet in Cardiff.

The town’s swimmers held their own against big clubs and gained seven gold medals, three silvers and three bronzes against some of the best in the south-west.

New coach Lawrie Thomson was only a week into his new role and saw Kai Gooden- Morris, 12, get the weekend off to a good start with fifth and a personal best in the 400-metre freestyle.

Gooden-Morris gained three more personal bests, five top-10 placings and five county times.

Elliot Heath, 13, was 10th in the 400m freestyle and added three further pbs, five county times and a 100m freestyle regional standard.

Lauren Freestone, 12, clocked pbs, including in the 50m freestyle, and Lily Wood also swam best times before both girls tackle the county championships.

Fynn Lewis-Gale, 12, made his club debut by finishing in the top 10 in all five events, gaining four county times.

Ten-year-old Robyn Munday and Eve Watson, 11, tackled a level one meet for the first time and impressed with the latter achieving three pbs, two county times and a 100m backstroke bronze.

William Kennedy, 10, also rose to the occasion with a six-second pb in the 200m backstroke and two county standards. Young prospect James Casewell, 10, claimed gold medals in five of his six events and gained four pbs .

Already marked out for his fine breaststroke results, he also set the pace in freestyle with golds in the 200m and 400m. Casewell holds four regional qualifying times.

Calypso Harvey, 16, scooped golds in the 400m individual medley and 200m freestyle, silvers in the 400m freestyle and 200m breaststroke and bronzes in the 800m freestyle and 200m backstroke. She has six regional qualifying standards.

Maddie Hayden, 16, improved her ranking in the 50m butterfly, while Peter Crocombe, 16, boasted two top-10 placings for his 50m freestyle and 50m breaststroke.

Harry Wilkins, 18, bagged silver in the 50m breaststroke.

The junior squad won the Wyvern League first round at a home gala and go forward to Pontypool in a bid to keep hold of the title Ledbury have held for 11 years.

Thomson said: “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the fact that every swimmer competing over the weekend achieved personal bests so early in the season and I’m optimistic about our forthcoming fixtures.

“Ledbury have a huge pool of potential talent among the younger swimmers and the seniors have proven to be remarkably receptive to new training methods.

“I am really looking forward to see what they all achieve over the next six months and beyond.”

Formally head coach at Cheltenham, Bangor in Northern Ireland and Haselmere, Surrey, Thomson joins Ledbury with a wealth of experience.

He has coached competitors for the British Championships and World European Junior Championships.

Thomson added: “Ledbury have a history of punching above their weight in swimming with the strong foundation set in place by the previous coaches.

“They both still have involvement in the club and, with the tremendous support on offer by a dedicated team of volunteer poolside helpers, I hope to build on the success in the season ahead.”