Record weekend for star Dereham swimmer

Dereham swimmer Marcella Aris, 15, who swims for St Felix School under top coach Sue Purchase, had a bumper weekend at the recent Regional Winter Championships held at the UEA Sportspark, Norwich,

She won five gold medals, two silver and five bronze over the weekend.

This was an early-season test of form for Aris, whose goals this season will be to perform at her best in the British Championships in March and qualify for the European Junior Championships in July.

On day one she got off to a flying start in the 200m freestyle, clocking 2:05.44 in the heat, going on to 2:04.13 in the final, setting a Norfolk record.

She went on to set personal best times in the 400m individual medley and the 200m backstroke and helped her 4x200m freestyle relay team to a medal.

On day two she continued her good form, setting a personal best time in the 200m IM, following this with a pb in the gruelling 800m freestyle – winning the junior gold medal.

She finished the morning by anchoring home her 4x100m medley relay team for a bronze medal place.

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But Aris saved her best for her blue riband event, the 400m freestyle,

In a keenly-fought race she took on 17-year-old Yasmin Bithrey from Hatfield. Bithrey was in fine form herself, having won the senior 100m and 200m titles.

From 100m out there were only the two girls in the race. Bithrey set her stall out, turning first at each end, but couldn't shake Aris off.

Aris stuck to the task which culminated in a thrilling last 25m, where Aris put her head down and out-sprinted her rival to take the gold in 4:16.24.

This beat Commonwealth Games swimmer Anne Bochmann's east region record set two years ago.

This season Aris has received funding from the Norfolk Sports and Cultural Foundation, which supports young talented athletes and artists on the road to London 2012.