Swansea success for Southampton Masters

Anonymized Account

The annual Masters pilgrimage to one of the three Nations of Great Britain saw City of Swansea host this year's National Masters Long Course Championships - with the Welsh Performance Centre the venue. Fresh in the minds of several competitors was the drawn out days of 2014 when Swim Wales last entertained this growing division of swimming....an 8 lane pool severely over-subscribed and resulting in races stretching into the late hours of the evening! A remedy was certainly required this time around. 

That remedy did come at a cost. A new format that focused on quality over quantity produced a tiered entry system, two stages with technically an A and B Standard qualifying time structure. Ostensibly made a lot of sense, afterall, this is the acme of the Masters domestic calendar and should therefore be something to which to aspire - however, with over 80% of the spaces taken come the close of the first entry for the A Standard, it was slim pickings for the remaining swimmers that where either outside the primary qualifying times or (in the case of many Sotonians) slow on the news feed!

B Standard opened, but by this time only one Southampton Master had made the entry. Many of the most popular races had been pushed to capacity making the 3 hour trip to the South of Wales a difficult justification for many in the squad. But for the quartet keen on glory, it was a worthwhile venture! Carl Halford (25-29yrs) and Melissa Dolby (18-24yrs) joined CSSC regular Brooke Wilkinson (18-24yrs) in keeping Coach James MacTavish (35-39yrs) company, but also donned their best racing suits to combine for a surprise National Title in the Mixed 4 x 100 Medley Relay (72yrs+) on the opening Friday of competition. With strong contenders from Exeter Masters and Kent Wauld SC, it was a finger-tip touch finish from Dolby that took the Gold by less than 2/10ths of a second. Thankfully, a dominant Preston team were removed from ranking given an under-age swimmer...otherwise it would have been a real silver lining!

Despite the aneamic solo entries for the Reds, MacTavish did go all in for the first individual event of the weekend - claiming Bronze in the 800m FC (10.08.79) with an impressive 12 second Personal Best behind Otter SC regular Pip Bennett and the impressive Paul Barnard of Trafford Metro. Similar success followed in the unfavoured 200m Breaststoke (03.02.54) later that evening, whilst the 50m Fly (00.31.24) and 50m FC (00.28.22) secured Top 10 finished in a crowded field. 

The whole weekend was littered with British, European and World Record smashing performances from across the Country...perhaps the most impressive coming from neighbours Fareham Nomads in reclaiming their 4 x 100 Medley Relay World Beating time (160yrs), and stalwart Jo Corben (45-49yrs) shaving over half a second off her 100m Backstroke World Record in the process. Hampshire continues to be the envy of the British Counties!

A more provincial affair looms next for Southampton Masters as the County Championships return to Portsmouth - and whilst the Top Club trophy looks almost certain to return to the Bluefins of Basingstoke, rest assured the Roses will not make it an easy victory for them!






James MacTavish

CSSC Masters Coach