SWIMMING: Masters at National Long Course Championships

Rugby's Masters with their medals at Sheffield

Rugby's Masters with their medals at Sheffield

Rugby Swimming Club

Along with the upsurge on the club as a whole, Rugby Swimming Club Masters section has grown over the past few months, albeit to a total of around a dozen, though up until recently there were three competing at most.

Rugby's swimmers at Ponds Forge

Rugby's swimmers at Ponds Forge

Things change and with six swimmers competing in Sheffield at the GB National Long Course Championships, it meant RSC could do something never before achieved, namely enter some relays. Relays are always interesting at Masters events as it is the total age of your swimmers that counts, with ages ranging from 72+ (4 x 18 year olds) to 320 + and even 360+, or four swimmers of an average of 90. Even more so, when you do the mixed relays, as not only do you have total age to consider, you need two chaps and two ladies, and they can swim in any order, and in the case of the medley relay, swim any stroke.

Rugby’s first relay was just that, a 4x50m mixed medley, and the team picks itself in terms of order and stroke, so there were high hopes. As it turns out Rugby stormed to victory by a clear 7 seconds from the opposition, as Karen Bates, on the backstroke, (35.51) touched in second place, a man leading of the first place team, Ross Turner then established a huge lead over the next teams on the Breaststroke leg, in an extremely fast 30.03, Rachel Lloyd then had the killer leg on the fly, (33.13) being chased by a couple of chaps from those in 2nd and 3rd. The lead was still 10m plus, when freestyle sprint specialist Simon Rigg set off, in the next lane the swimmers was 20 years younger so Simon couldn’t take it easy, but an excellent 26.5 actually extended the lead, and a rousing victory, at the first attempt at a relay at this level ever. In fact they were the second fastest of any team in any age group.

This was closely followed by the two ladies mentioned, being joined by Kelly Dughmosh and Laura Rushall, both making their debuts for the club at any Master’s meet, in the gruelling 4x200m freestyle relay. This was a real leap into the unknown, but against all the odds, the proverbial buses did indeed come along together as the ladies led from the start to finish, with great splits of Laura, 2.37, Karen 2.36, Kelly 2.26 and Rachel 2.34 for a winning time of 10.14.24. Now one should never mention a ladies age, but the total was 157 years, so next year they will move up to the 160+, and maybe swim more as a team in the shorter relays as well.

Karen, Ross, Rachel and Simon also managed 2nd in the 4x100 medley and 4x100 freestyle relays. It seemed like a good idea to enter the medley as all swimmers would be there anyway doing their individuals, to be fair it wasn’t that good an idea. Karen had swum 400 IM, Ross had literally just got out of the pool after winning a medal in the 100m breaststroke, Rachel had suddenly been violently ill, and Simon keeps trying to retire from any race in a 50m pool, that involves turning round and going back. Having said that the team pulled together and whilst finishing a little way behind the leaders, were well clear of the rest. In the 4x100 freestyle the same four had had a rest but came up against a team from Otter after the European Record, Otter are one of these teams who select masters swimmers from several clubs to swim at bigger meets under one banner. Again Rugby were a little way off the leaders, but several seconds ahead of the rest. Four relays entered, 2 gold and 2 silver, which is a truly fantastic end result.

Individually, Ross won Gold in his 50m Breaststroke, his specialist event, by nearly a second, Karen won Silver in the 100m backstroke, Kelly won a Bronze in the 800m free, her first masters race ever, Rachel a shock but pleasing bronze in the 100m fly, and Ross also won bronze in the 100m breaststroke. In fact not one of the six finished outside the top 7 in any of their event, with several 4th 5th and sixths.

Some excellent times were recorded, Rachel clocking sub 30 for 50m freestyle, Ross a lifetime best of 28.31 in the 50 fly, Kelly’s 800m, is the fastest ever by a rugby swimmer either long or short course, and Laura breaking her short course times in a long course pool by seconds as she joined the party with aplomb.

Simon’s only individual race saw him 5th in the 50m free, 26.57. though he was the oldest in his age band, and moves up next year. Talking of oldest, one swimmer, Jane Asher has just moved into the 85-89 age group, and shattered the world record for 800m, but on the way set a WR at 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m, 5 WRs in one race, which is not a bad return for the entry money.