A reduced squad compared with prior years still brought home the goods from the GB Masters Long Course championships held this year in Swansea. They bagged five individual medals and two Beds County records with the squad’s versatility and stamina very much in evidence. Three of the medals were won in the 400m Individual Medley.
After fourteen years of competing in Masters’ competitions, John O’Rourke got the weekend off to a flying start, winning his first ever National swimming medal in the 50-54 years’ 800m Freestyle. His time of 11:51.48 earned him a well-deserved Bronze medal. Having waited fifty years to medal, John only had to wait a few hours for the next session to collect a further Bronze medal with his time of 7:20.78 in the 400m IM.
Malcolm Barton, who was competing for the last time in the 60 -64 years’ age group, was drawn in the same heat as John for the 400m IM. As might be expected, they were changing positions with each stroke during the race. Malcolm led on the Butterfly leg for John to overtake just after 150m on the Backstroke. Having been passed on the Breaststroke, John finally pulled away from Malcolm with just over 50 metres to go on the Freestyle. The friendly rivalry and pace setting clearly paid dividends. Malcolm held on over the final 50 metres to claim second place in a time of 7:31.92 – a mere 0.65 seconds ahead of the fast-finishing third placed swimmer in his age group. The time was only 1.76 seconds slower than when Malcolm won Bronze in the same event back in 2016.
The effort of winning that silver IM medal perhaps took its toll on Malcolm who was marginally disappointed with his time of 3: 20.73 in his 200m Breaststroke in the next session. However, it was more than sufficient to claim the Bronze medal, emulating the position he achieved four years ago in the same age group.
The two new Beds County Masters records came from Karen MacKenzie, competing in the 45 – 49 years’ age group. Swimming in the event for only the second time, Karen smashed her own record in the 400m Individual medley to claim the Bronze medal. Her time of 6:27.81 was some 7 seconds faster than she swam at Crawley back in January, reflecting a vast improvement in her weakest discipline, the Breaststroke. With two World record swimmers in her age group Karen was always going to have tough competition in her Backstroke events. Undeterred, Karen finished in a time of 36.98 seconds to snatch 4th place in the 50m, reducing her own County record by 0.11 seconds. Karen was similarly placed in the 100m Backstroke, just 0.35 seconds outside her County record whilst she finished 5th in her 50m Freestyle and 9th over 50m Butterfly.
In the 55-59 years’ age group, Alastair Gibb was unable to emulate his club mates, finishing in 4th place in his 400m IM, whilst being placed 7th and 6th respectively in his 50m and 200m Backstroke events.