DUE to the continued closure of their training pool at Kingsway Leisure Centre amid a legionella scare, Halton Swimming Club were always going to struggle on the long haul to Carlisle in the Speedo League.
Despite taking an early lead after good individual medley wins from Lucy Myler and Will War-burton, Halton missed valuable relay points through not being able to send boys or girls teams in the 11-year age group to Cumbria.
But the team fought hard to maintain the club's position in this league and managed 32 personal best swims.
The next round at Wrexham will be just as tough but if Halton can name a full side they should maintain their league status.
The girls' open-age relay team of Lucy Myler, Sarah-Louise Banner, Louise Wallbank and Katie Holmes were a class above - taking both relay events.
There were individual breast stroke and freestyle successes from Holmes and Banner.
The girls' 15-years team of Louise Wallbank, Katie Scutt, Jess Wainwright and Anna Navis followed in the seniors' slipstream as they won their medley relay in similar fashion. Scutt also took individual breast stroke in a fine time of 1 min 18 secs.
The men's open age saw good wins from Will Warburton at 100m butterfly and Andy Matthews (100m freestyle).
But at this level, you cannot afford to concede points and Halton finished fifth, although just 10 points behind Copeland and a further three away from Barrow.
It was a similar story the following day in the Merseyside & District League Division One gala at Everton Park.
Defending champions Halton were again left to reflect on the repercussions of the Kingsway problems as they had to enter the new league season without a boys' relay team in the 11-year age group.
After some initial losses in the early relays, the 14-15 girls' team turned things around.
Anna Navis, Katie Scutt, Jess Wainwright and Ellie Newby won the medley relay before Wainwright took individual first places for 50m butterfly and freestyle.
Navis landed the backstroke title with a great finish and Katie comfortably captured the breast-stroke.
Halton's open-age girls' team likewise proved too strong for the rest by winning both relay events.
Lucy Myler hung on to the finish in a tight butterfly event. Katie Holmes, meanwhile, remains the league's quickest breast stroke swimmer after her 100m win.
The men's open-age medley team also came through with flying colours. They had a great win, from Liverpool Penguins, in the medley relay.
Will Warburton put the team in front with a great starting back-stroke leg.
John Navis handed a tight advantage to Chris Newby on the butterfly.
The 14-year-old kept the team in it before Andy Matthews stormed through a freestyle leg, taking it from Liverpool's Alan Woolfarth.
Matthews went on to take individual freestyle with a strong swim and Warburton cruised to a comfortable 100m backstroke win.
Sadie Smith, 10, captured Halton's other victory in the 11 years' individual breast stroke.
Rounding off a solid Halton performance, the girls' cannon team of Sadie Smith, Rebecca Stevens, Ellie Newby, Rebecca Preston, Jess Wainwright, Anna Navis, Lucy Myler and Sarah-Louise Banner fought hard to win.
Rebecca Stevens, Olivia Bailey, Jade McDonnell, Lucy Wallbank, Jamie and Daniel Monks, Matthew Neild, Ian Larson and Michael Matthews all worked hard for their team.
The overall result was 1 Everton 2 Liverpool Penguins 3 Halton 4 Connah's Quay 5 Birkenhead 6 Warrington Warriors.