Fareham firsts for Southampton Masters' newcomers

Anonymized Account

Fareham Nomads Masters have certainly been making an impact over the past few years – taking British, European and World Records, swelling in membership and hunting the traditional two-horse Top Club race between Southampton and Basingstoke down fast at Hampshire Masters Championships. 

27thApril saw the peripheral suburb host its second Masters Meet at Waterlooville Leisure Centre. Last year The Quays played host, and drew attention from across the South East and London…and whilst the change to a somewhat isolated venue, together close proximity to Easter, did impact overall attendance, quality was still very much on show. 

Southampton Masters themselves had a touch of a new look to them as well – with several new faces making debuts combining with familiar faces. Leading the charge was Melissa Dolby (18-24yrs), the former Trafford University Student and sprint specialist. Dominating the difficult Senior Age Group for Ladies over the 50m FC (00.28.08) and 100m FC (01.02.23), together with an impressive 100m IM (01.09.69), the 24-year-old came away with a full score hat-trick of titles. One age-division up, Hannah Dicker (25-29yrs) successfully defended her 50m Backstroke (00.34.89) title from the previous year, as well as Silver in the 100m IM (01.17.18) and Bronze in the 50m FC (00.31.37) to complete the set. 

It was a welcome return for Natalie Robinson (30-34yrs), a former Junior CSSC swimmer who’d been absent from competition for nine years. A tidy 100m IM (01.22.90) put a golden smile to the veteran’s face, whilst strong performances in the 50m Breaststroke (00.45.52) and 50m Fly (00.38.90) were pipped by less than a second to Gold by Claire Wiseman of Eastbourne Masters. Rachel White (35-39yrs) was the Red’s sole 200m FC (02.34.05) competitor, but added to the Golden tally, whereas Amanda Rush (50-54yrs) continued her impressive domestic run of 50m Backstroke (00.36.94) and 50m FC (00.34.02) title winning swims. 

Suzanne Van Leeuwen (45-49yrs) stepped into competitive Masters swimming at SE Regionals earlier in the year, following in the footsteps of her Sister (representing Fareham). Despite nerves and hesitation, the 47-year-old fought for the final podium spots in both the 50m Fly (00.41.09) and 50m Back (00.41.16) against stern opposition – a huge confidence boost ahead of County Masters Championships later in June. 

It was very much the Ladies show for CSSC Masters this year, but a few of the Gentlemen made the effort! Carl Halford (25-29yrs) accompanied his partner Melissa playing to strengths in the 50m FC (00.26.85) and 100m FC (00.57.77) taking Bronze and Silver respectively. An impressive 100m Breaststroke (01.15.95) saw a Masters PB and final Bronze of the afternoon. James MacTavish (35-39yrs) dispensed with anything involving a tumble-turn (Waterlooville pool is known for its ‘challenging’ shallow end!) but came close to a clean-sweep of Golds including an unforeseen 100m IM (01.08.79) and 100m Fly (01.08.34). 200m Breaststroke (02.58.24) was only the second time the Coach had broken the 3 minute barrier to take a third Gold, but the 37-year-old had to settle for Bronze in the 50m Fly (00.30.94) behind regular rivals Olly Espinasse of Basingstoke and Leon Smith of Teddington. 

At the other end of the spectrum, Richard Osman (60-65yrs) took a trio of Silvers across the 100m IM (01.56.80), 50m FC (00.38.69) and 50m Breaststroke (00.58.08), undone by the seasoned Mark Straw of Bracknell in each. 

Relays were a last-minute addition to the CSSC agenda, given the heavily skewed female presence and mixed-team requirement. But Southampton Masters certainly performed against the much fancied Teddington over the 4 x 50 FC (01.51.84) – with Halford/MacTavish/Dicker/Dolby taking not only the 72yrs+ title, but also beating the National Champions by a second! The feat was repeated in the 4 x 50 Medley (Robinson in for Dicker) to double up the Golden relay tally!

Despite a lower turnout from Southampton Masters, and some key names initially down to attend but sadly having to drop out nearing the last minute (Aldridge, Willcocks) – this team of ten came close to matching last year’s medal tally with 28 podium finishes. Perhaps more encouragingly, it provided a crucial stepping stone for newcomers looking to get back into those racing jammers / costumes once again and see just what they are still capable of. Let’s hope this momentum (and enjoyment!) continues through to Counties next month!

MEDAL TALLY

GOLD : 14

SILVER : 8

BRONZE : 6

TOTAL : 28

James MacTavish

CSSC Masters Coach