Nine Etwall Eagles Masters recently represented the club in the European Masters Swimming Championships at the Olympic Pool in London. The event had vastly more entrants than had been planned for and as a result the organisation was at times very chaotic with crowded warm ups and some very late swims. However due to a combination of good weather (a lot of time between swims had to be spent outside as there was no room in the pool complex), a great team spirit and some fantastic results a great time was had by all.
Top individual honours went to Kath Tunnicliffe swimming in the 60 – 64 age group. Kath swam in the 3 backstroke events and came away with a silver medal in the 100m, a bronze medal in the 50m and 4th place in the 200m event. A fantastic achievement given that Kath is at the top end of the age group … it is better to be young in the age group in masters swimming!
There were also top 10 finishes for Lindsey Gowland in the 55-59 age group. Lindsey came 4th in the 50 freestyle…missing out on the bronze medal by one hundredth of a second, she also came 5th in the 50 fly and 15th in the 50 breast stroke. Jaq Mann, after some really hard training that has seen her break numerous lifetime pb’s at the age of 44 this year, was 7th in the 50 fly, with another pb, and 9th in the 50 free. Chris Thorp was the first of the team to swim, in the 200 IM and finished just outside the top 10 in the 65 – 69 age group. He followed this up with a 12th place in the 50 breast stroke before finally hitting the top 10 with a 10th place in the 50 fly. Helen Rollé had top 20 finishes in 50 free and 50 breast stroke.
An indication of the scale of the event is in the men’s 100 freestyle where our club chair, Clive Smith, came 254th in his age group (45 -49 years), but he was by no means the slowest…with 320 swimmers taking part just in that age group. Other individual swimmers were Carolyn Dyall and Janet Briggs.
However I think for all the highlight of the Championships was the relays. These were kicked off by Kath Tunnicliffe, Lindsey Gowland, Helen Rollé and Jaq Mann in the 4 X 50m freestyle relay, in the 200 – 239 years age group. Masters relays work on combined age of the four swimmers. Earlier in the year our quartet had targeted the British record in this event, they beat it..but were just beaten by a team from Barnet Copthall who took the record. Needless to say our girls were out for revenge! Those of us not at the pool were glued to the online live feed, fantastic swims from Kath and Lindsey set Helen and Jaq up to swim to a bronze medal position, we waited on tenterhooks for what seemed like ages for the time to come up…they had done it! A time of 2:01.59 saw them break the previous British record by over half a second and beat their own time from April by almost a second.
Next there were 2 mixed relays, again in the 200 – 239 age group. Carl Mann, Chris Thorp, Lindsey Gowland and Carolyn Derbyshire swam in the medley event. There were no expectations of medals or records here but they were very pleased to finish in the top half of the field. Carl later admitted it was the first competitive backstroke he had swum for some time. Later in the week and later in the day Clive Smith, Janet Briggs, Carolyn Derbyshire and Chris thorp made up the quartet for the freestyle relay. This must get a record as the latest in the day any of us has swum competitively, getting into the water at about 10.45 pm on a Saturday evening. All recorded good split times, beat the entry time and were pleased to be well up from the bottom of the field. Janet and Clive then had to be up at 5.30 next morning to prepare to swim in the 200 breast stroke…bad planning?!
The best was still to come, the last event of the championships was the ladies medley relay. Again it was our record breaking quartet of Kath, Lindsey, Jaq and Helen. They were ranked 5th on entry time and their previous swim had been a couple of seconds off the British record, so expectations were not so high. However we were all glued to the live feed again. Kath kicked off with her best 50 backstroke of the week, Helen followed with her best 50 breast stroke for several years, Jaq’s fly pulled them through into 2nd place, and Lindsey hung on to this beating our local rivals from Nottingham Leander by 8 hundredths of a second. Silver medallists, and the time…2:18.91, a new British Record!!! The previous record was the longest standing masters record, having been set in 2002. What a team! Incidentally they also beat the previous European record but that was taken by the first placed team from Berlin.
Cinderford Masters Open Meet, June 2014
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