The Masters’ spirit of “Fitness, Friendship & fun” was very much in evidence at the GB Long Course championships held down in Plymouth. Four silver medals, two Bronze, four Beds County records and at least two Top 5 finishes for each of our competitors were in some ways just the icing on the cake.
John O’Rourke set the tone for the weekend, both at the hotel the night before swimming and then with his first swim, the 800m Freestyle. Competing in the 45 – 49 years’ age group, John finished 5thin a time of 11:48.67. That was some eighteen seconds faster than his qualifying time and five seconds faster than he had swum in the Erith Masters’ short course meet just three weeks’ earlier. John also finished 5thin his 400m Individual Medley (“IM”) in a time of 7:01.51. That was so agonisingly close not just to breaking the seven-minute barrier but also a mere 0.54 seconds outside of his own Beds County record set back in 2016. John, at the top end of his age group, also finished 7thin both his 400m Freestyle and 200m IM.
Karen Mackenzie (45) claimed 4thplace in her 100m Backstroke. Her time of 1:21.62 demolished the County record for her age group by over 20 seconds. Karen proceeded to reduce her own County records on both 50m Backstroke and 200m IM by a second whilst knocking 0.5 seconds off her 100m Freestyle record. Swimming 50m Butterfly long course for the first time, Karen also beat her personal best short course time by 0.5 seconds.
In the 55 – 59 years age group, Alastair Gibb (58) claimed 5thspot in both his 200m IM and 200m Breaststroke. He topped off his weekend with a bronze in the 400m IM, to match his finish in the 2015 GBs.
Out of his five swims in the 60 – 64 years’ age group, Graham Powell (62) was most pleased with his time in the 50m Butterfly. This was despite being touched out of the medals by 0.36 seconds. Revenge over his rivals came by Graham then snatching the silver medals in his 50m Back stroke and 100m Butterfly by just 0.03 and 0.06 seconds. Graham won two further silvers in his 100m and 200m Backstroke.
Colin Mayes (63) collected a bronze for his 200m IM whilst finishing 4thand 5thover 100m and 200 Breaststroke. He also managed to fit in an “open water” swim, retrieving his phone at 6am from the harbour where he had dropped it the night before!
In a return to competing nationally after a year coming back from a snow-boarding shoulder injury, Malcolm Barton (63) was less than 0.5 seconds behind Colin in the 100m Breaststroke to finish 5th. A strong final 50m in the 200m Breaststroke saw Malcolm claim 4th place. His time of 3:18.57 was an eight second improvement on his long course time from January and within three seconds of his GB bronze medal winning time in 2015.