With three of the six making their Masters’ competitive debuts this year, it was the turn of the Ladies to shine at the Barnet Masters Sprints Meet. They collected 17 medals, emulating their male colleagues, but had the surprise bonus of breaking a Beds County Masters relay record whilst adding to what is already the Club’s highest ever Ladies Team decathlon score.
Laura Smith, aged 25, propelled herself to become the Club’s second highest scoring female in the Ladies decathlon in only her second Masters’ meet. She claimed two silver medals (100m Individual Medley “IM” and 50m Butterfly) and three Bronze medals (50m & 100m Freestyle and 50m Breaststroke) in the 25 – 29 years’ age group.
Jodie Armstrong won two individual golds on her debut swims in the 35 – 39 years’ 50m Butterfly and 50m Backstroke, pushing Michelle Neal into the silver position in the Butterfly. Michelle exacted her revenge on the 50m Freestyle, coming 4th to Jodie’s 6th place. Thirty-seven year old Michelle also just missed out on a further medal, touching 4th in the 100m Freestyle.
Kelly Cooke was the Club’s third Masters’ debutante, finishing 4thin her 40 – 44 years’ 50m Freestyle and 5thin the 4 x 25m IM. She still came away with two Gold medals courtesy of being a member of both the 160+ years’ Ladies 4 x 50m Freestyle and Medley relay teams. Winning both of those relays, the quartet of Jodie, Michelle, Kelly and Karen Mackenzie were never really challenged by the second placed team. They still broke the Beds County freestyle relay record for their age group that had been held by South Beds since 2015 much to everyone’s delight – including the children who had travelled to support their mothers. In a real team display each of the Ladies recorded 31 second splits to finish in a time of 2:06.20.
Karen Mackenzie picked up an individual gold (50m Backstroke) and two silvers (100m IM and 100m Butterfly) in her 45 – 49 years’ age group.
Like Karen, Sharon Thompson was on the hunt for adding to her personal individual decathlon score. Competing over some of her weaker strokes, Sharon still picked up two silvers (50m & 100m Breaststroke) and two bronze medals (50m Butterfly and 50m Freestyle) in her 50 -54 years’ age group.
Barnet provided Graham Powell with only his second competitive Masters’ swims of the year after an enforced absence for health reasons. He was back to his old winning ways with four golds (50m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke, 100m Butterfly and 100m IM) as Team Luton’s men dominated his 60 – 64 years’ age group. Breaststroke specialist Malcolm Barton took the opportunity to test himself over all four strokes in preparation for his 400m IM at the National Masters come October. Winning both the 100m Backstroke and 100m Breaststroke, Malcolm was second in the 100m Freestyle and third in the 100m Butterfly. Having been edged out of first place by Malcolm in the Breaststroke, Colin Mayes picked up a gold for the 100m Freestyle and a Bronze in the 100m IM.
In the 55 – 59 years age group, Alastair Gibb was placed first in his 100m Freestyle and second in both the 100m Backstroke and 100m Breaststroke.
John O’Rourke competed in six events in a highly contested 50 – 54 years age group. His best placings came with a gold in the 100m Backstroke and a bronze in the 100m Butterfly. Ian Norman had three top ten finishes in the same age group, his best being fifth over 25m Freestyle.
Twenty-two years old Alex Mason won the 18 – 24 years’ 100m IM and came third in the 100m Butterfly.
With a total of 34 medals and 1 new County record, Masters coach Pauline Harrington was suitably proud, not least as she had spent the best part of her birthday and the 60th anniversary of joining a swimming club, with the squad of 13.
A special mention should also go to the support from all the family members and partners of all ages who on this occasion almost outnumbered the Club’s competitors.