A squad of six swimmers competed in Derbyshire at the Etwall Eagles Masters meet in a multitude of sprint events bringing their 2016 competitive season to an immensely satisfying end.
Having won the Top Non-Midlands club trophy at the meet for the past two years, the odds appeared to be stacked against us this year.
Four of Team Luton’s swimmers faced particularly stiff competition in their age groups, with East Leeds sending swimmers in their forties who feature in the top twenty of both the men’s and ladies individual ASA national decathlon competition for 2016.
A great team effort nevertheless saw our swimmers amass a grand total of 126 points, six more than their winning total in 2015. In part this was achieved by them competing over strokes or distances that were not their specialities but which still garnered valuable points. As a result Team Luton convincingly beat East Leeds in the top Non – Midlands team competition, only to lose out to Banbury on retaining the trophy. In the final analysis it transpired that the Oxfordshire team had few, if any, competitors in their age groups thus helping them to gain maximum points from all their races.
The meet was twenty-four years old Jonathan Pennell’s debut competitive performance for Team Luton. Competing in the 18 – 24 year age group, Jonathan secured 28 points, winning three of his races (50m Butterfly, Backstroke and Freestyle) and finishing second in two others (100m Freestyle and IM). As the second highest scoring individual in the “Senior’s” age group competition, Jonathan won a prize of free entry into two races in next year’s competition when he will be a fully fledged “Masters” swimmer.
In the Men’s 45 – 49 year age group Mark Wareham tested his stamina and body to the full. Despite straining himself mid-race, Mark showed true team spirit to finish his 100m Breaststroke in 2nd place and still went on to compete in eight of the nine individual events he had entered. Mark finished in 3rd place in the 25m Butterfly and 4th in three other events to help gain 23 points for the team.
In the same age group, John O’Rourke swam in six individual events. His best placing was 6th in the 25m Butterfly, whilst gaining valuable points for the team in his other races. Being more of a distance freestyle and backstroke swimmer, John showed true grit pulling away from the rest of the field in his heat on the breaststroke leg of his 100m IM. His time in the 50m Butterfly was also his fastest in that event this year.
With a huge total of 24 swimmers competing in their age group’s individual competition, Mark finished in overall 6th place and John 15th.
In the Ladies 45 – 49 year age group competition, Lorraine Sadler finished overall 5th and Sharon Collins 9th. Their performances were truly commendable having both only made their competitive Masters debut this year.
Lorraine’s best placings were 2nd in the 100m Backstroke, 3rd in the 100m Breaststroke and 5th places in four other events including the 100m IM, an event she had never even swum before.
Being a relative newcomer Sharon had become increasingly accustomed to recording Personal Bests (“PBs”) each time she swam. The lack of a warm-up on the day, due to traffic hold ups on the M1, were not ideal preparation leading Sharon to register her disquiet at swimming four out of five “PWs”- personal worst times! Consolation came in her final event, with second place in the 25m Freestyle and in a PB time to boot!
Competing in eight individual races, Alastair Gibb accumulated a total of 36 points. He finished second overall in the Men’s 55 – 59 year age group having gained four first places (25m, 50m & 100m Backstroke and 100m Breaststroke) with a second place in the 100m IM. His times over 100m Backstroke, Freestyle and IM were all within less than a half a second of his PBs for the year.
Fourth places in both the Mixed 4 x 50m Freestyle and Medley relays in the 160 -199 year age group rounded off the “fun day” end to the competitive season. With an ever increasing number of Masters and Seniors, expectations are high that Team Luton will be sending an even larger and stronger team to next year’s competition.
Thanks as ever to our small travelling band of supporters, Sarah, Matt and John.