SWIMMING: HALTON Swimming Club are pushing Bootle & North Liverpool all the way in the Merseyside & District League.
The Kingsway Leisure Centre club look to be the only side capable of catching the defending champions who are again leading the way.
Bootle & North Liverpool still look to have the edge over the rest, but Halton are closing the gap fast judging by the intense battle for first place at the Connah's Quay event.
They pursued Bootle to the final two events before losing out by just five points after 50 events.
Halton's strong girls' squad were a class above the rest as the Under 15s team won five of their six events.
Lucy Myler, Katie Holmes, Louise Wallbank and Amy Bellfield were 12 metres clear in both the freestyle and medley events.
The individuals were much closer but the result was the same, Katie Holmes finished first in the breast-stroke.
Sarah-Louise Banner took the freestyle and Louise Wallbank did likewise in the backstroke.
The open-age swimmers performed similarly well.
Lindsay Jude, Stephanie Mahoney, Sarah-Louise Banner and Lucy Myler combined to win the relays.
Lindsay Jude looked sharp and stayed on for the finish to win the backstroke in 1:09.
Stephanie's start is becoming too good to match in the sprint events, and she comfortably controlled the butterfly event.
William Warburton's versatility earned him a win in the U15s breaststroke and he was unlucky to be touched out in the 50m butterfly with 30.3.
Halton's other first place went to Mathew Edgar who showed good technique in winning the U11s butterfly event.
The U13s girls' team of Anna Navis, Amy Anderson, Jessica Wainwright and Katie Scutt are improving well and after two second places in the relays, it shouldn't be too long before they too are a hard team to beat.
Jack Steele and Chris Newby have added strength in depth.
The final gala result was: 1 Bootle & North Liverpool; 2 Halton; 3 Connah's Quay; 4 Birkenhead; 5 Liverpool Penguins.