Royal Navy Masters Meet brings Gold to Southampton Masters

James MacTavish

Another sorely missed Masters event postponed by the pandemic, the Royal Navy Masters Meet made a welcome return to the calendar in 2022, hosted again by Millfield School, Glastonbury. Like many Masters event come the easing of lockdown, this traditionally relaxed and informal event suddenly became a rush for Masters competitors from across Great Britain, travelling down from as far as Birmingham and Leeds. Southampton Masters too saw its attendees swell, from the usual two or three making the journey West, to six-strong (seven if you include a lone CSSC alumni competing under Wildern Waves!) 

Melissa Dolby (25-29yrs) went head-to-head with former Birmingham University Team-Mate Megan Berridge over her favoured sprint distances, getting the better of her varsity colleague in the 100m IM (01.08.85) and 50m Fly (00.29.36) before claiming a Championship Record in the 50m FC (00.27.31) completing a hat-trick of Golds. Sharing the same age-group, former CSSC Junior Issy Lyon-Maris just missed out on a podium place in the 50m FC (00.30.22) but took the title in the 50m Back (00.35.39). 

Fiona Carroll (30-34yrs) produced some fine performances across the FC races, varying from 400m FC (04.41.68) down to the sprint of 50m FC (00.29.42), only to be out-done for the top-placing by High Wycombe veteran Rebecca O'Brian. A series of Silvers and Bronzes came the 31-year-old's way in deserved compensation. Newcomer Lucy Gruner (40-44yrs) out-performed in all three of her events, five-seconds off her entry time in the 100m IM (01.21.41) and 400m FC (05.15.79) for final podium placings before a sterling Silver performance in the 50m FC (00.31.38), just pipped to the title by half-a-second.

On the Men's side, Carl Halford (25-29yrs) managed to dash to Silver in the 50m Breast (00.34.55) and take a solid Bronze in the 100m Breast (01.16.35), the might of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force debutants preventing medals in the 50m FC (00.26.39) and 100m FC (00.58.47). James MacTavish (40-44yrs) opened with the Team's first Gold of the Championships over the 400m FC (04.44.68) before having to challenge former Southampton University alumni-turned-Record-Breakers in Chris Jones of Cardiff Masters and Jon Audis of Swindon Tigersharks. Final podium placings came in the 100m Fly (01.07.74) and 100m IM (01.09.60) before a surprise Silver in the less-favoured 50m FC (00.27.37) capping a successful, but busy, day of racing for the 40-year-old. 

For the first time in six years, Southampton Masters had enough recruits to enter relays - albeit Mixed only! The combined efforts of Dolby/Lyon-Maris/MacTavish/Halford was enough for bridesmaid finishes on both the 4 x 50m Medley and FC events...the latter with only a finger-tip finish snatching Gold away through a tough battle with seasoned Devonshire Masters outfit Exmouth SC. 

The Royal Navy Masters Meet above all others in the discipline requires volunteers, with many making the trip from far-flung Northern England and Wales to ensure this revitalised event runs smoothly. As part of the Hampshire ASA jurisdiction, it was a pleasure to see so many County Masters Clubs turn out in force, and one can only hope this continues to grow in years to come. 

 

GOLD : 5

SILVER : 6

BRONZE : 7

TOTAL : 18

 

James MacTavish

CSSC Masters Coach

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