SWIMMING: British championships success for Rugby trio

Simon Rigg, Rachel Lloyd and Ross Turner
Simon Rigg, Rachel Lloyd and Ross Turner

Long course medals in Plymouth for Rugby Swimming Club masters

With only a two-week break since competing in the Midlands Master Short Course championships, three intrepid Rugby Masters’ Swimmers ventured down the M5 to Plymouth for the British Long Course Championships.

Rachel Lloyd, Ross Turner and Simon Rigg, competed over the weekend with varied hopes and expectations, some fulfilled others not quite. As ever, the event saw a variety of British, European, and World records, at a variety of events by a variety of ages.

Another highlight of the weekend was the announcement and presentation to Jane Asher, 87, who was awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Jane holds more World Records than you can shake a whole bunch of very large sticks at. Currently over 100 and counting, not to mention the European and British records, in everything from 50m sprints to 3.0km open water.

Rachel was aiming for a medal or two, as she was 4th fastest in virtually every event she was swimming, Ross was looking to regain his British titles in his specialist breaststroke events, whilst Simon had little expectation of a medal, he was hoping to continue his recent run of improvement in terms of times. He had the 5th, 6th and 12th fastest times in his three events, and the little matter of Multi WR holder Mike Hodgson in every event he was swimming.

First up were the 100m breaststroke, where Rachel finish 4th in 1.27.61, as per her rankings, Ross was aiming for revenge for last year, but just missed out with silver in 1.12.01. Realistically he has only been back in serious training for a few months after injury, and this showed as he tired towards the end, to miss out by less than a second. Next up was the ‘splash and

dash’, that is the 50m free, possibly the event that sums up Masters swimming. In the first heat Sam Almond caused a bit of a stir as a faulty

start was called, as he struggled up onto his blocks, but 1 min 11 seconds later the 96-year-old was British Champion. A few heats later, Luke Pool, 24, swam 23.2 for his gold and a British record, a bit of a contrast.

Somewhere in between Simon clocked 27.78, or 26.98 s/c conversion, to take another 0.75 off his time from two weeks ago for a decent 5th place, it was well past the 40m mark before his form started to go, so a few more months and hopefully a full 50m can see him back in the low 26s.

Ross was 4th in 26.68 (25.87), though his age group was won in a staggering 23.79 (22.98).

Rachel,completed the event, and swam, 30.42, (29.62) for a creditable 6th. Rachel completed the first day’s racing, and sometimes things work out for you, a uncharacteristically slow time, was not well received, until the results showed a bronze medal, so not too bad after all.

The next day saw all three compete in the 50m breaststroke, Rachel claiming another bronze in 38.72, (37.71). Simon was next up, claiming 4th in 36.36 (35.35), a little disappointing to not improve on the Midlands, but in only his fourth breaststroke race in two years, a decent result. Ross was just pipped again for gold, as he swam, 31.26, (30.25), as he just couldn’t reel in the eventual winner, ex GB international, Chris Aust.

Rachel followed this up with another thrd in the 100m backstroke, in 1.16.64, (1.15.43), over five seconds clear of 4th.

Ross swam 50m fly later in the afternoon, to fill in time before the evening session, and clocked a very respectful, 28.87, (28.17) for 5th place.

The last event for all three was the 100m freestyle. Rachel was up first and continued her run of bronze medals in a 1.06.19, (1.04.19), but Rachel also has a new challenge in her swimming career, her 12-year-old daughter, as they vie for top spot in their household as they swim pretty much the same events.

Ross didn’t have his greatest swim, as he put it, “obviously his last swim of the weekend”, 1.00.40, (58.79), was STILL good enough for 8th.

Simon in only his third 100m swim in two years, and first long course 100m in three years, was aiming to beat his 12th ranked entry position. A very well paced race, (apparently) saw him clock a 1.03.78 for 8th place, only a fraction slower than at the Midlands event, but the conversion is a 1.02.17, his fastest time since his back injury. Whilst not lightning fast, it puts him within spitting distance of the elusive sub 60, an achievement that look a forlorn hope, when he was out of the pool for six months.