WITNEY & District excelled at the final round of the National Arena League to preserve their Premier Division status.

A third place finish in their gala saw them finish 14th overall in the West Midlands to stay up – a significant achievement in their first appearance at this level in 15 years.

Their points haul included wins for 11-year-olds Katie Franklin, Hattie Lever and Henry Purcell, plus Jonathan Opalczweskim, who is 15.

There were also 13 second places, including the final two open relays.

Elsewhere, Bicester Blue Fins won promotion back to West Midlands Division 2 at the first time of asking.

The club won Division 3 after finishing first in their final round draw against the other five highest-placed clubs in the division.

Blue Fins’ 207 points was enough to narrowly triumph over second-placed Ledbury, who claimed 199.

They also beat Oxfordshire rivals Kidlington & Gosford, plus Cannock, Brownstone and Ilkeston.

The victory came after the Bicester club were demoted last year and head coach Craig Oliver was delighted with his team’s performance.

He said: “We showed both breadth and depth and displayed passion and team spirit throughout.

“After demotion last year, the team were focused on bouncing straight back up the division.

“I think we did this in spectacular fashion, and I am immensely proud of our athletes.”

Club captain Katelin Cavill, 15, added: “The atmosphere was amazing on Saturday and we had so much support. We had strong swims across all age groups.”

Kidlington & Gosford surpassed expectations in only their second season back in the competition.

Under the guidance of new head coach Joe Walker, the male open age group won every event they entered.

There were also a host of strong swims from younger members who will form the core of next season’s challenge for the Division 3 title.

After Christmas, Blue Fins and Kidlington & Gosford will turn their attention to the Oxfordshire and North Bucks County Championships.