The 2016 National Masters Championships in Sheffield yielded two champions in Graham Powell and Dave Wright with nine medals, three East Region and six Beds County Masters’ records for Team Luton. This bettered our 2015 performance when the squad brought home eight medals.
However it was not all about the material items. The weekend was yet another opportunity to witness the great team spirit that prevails, encouraging club mates to record numerous personal best times (“pbs”) for the year and to secure a fantastic grand total of 39 Top Ten finishes, another improvement on 2015.
The 2 Gold, 1 Silver and 6 Bronze medals are what make headline news but they were accompanied by a further seven 4th places and seven 5th places being achieved by the club’s ten swimmers who travelled up north. (Unfortunately Ian Norman was hospitalised in the run up to Sheffield but he had still taken time out to wish everyone well).
Neither Karen Mackenzie nor Sharon Collins had ever competed in any Masters swimming events until earlier this year but nerves were never in evidence.
Swimming in the 40 – 44 year age group, Karen’s best placing was 4th in the 100m Backstroke, emulating her placing in the British Masters back in April. Karen’s time in the 50m Freestyle, an event in which she had never competed, was less than 0.5 seconds outside her age group’s Beds County record.
Being at the top end of the 45 – 49 year age group, placings were never going to feature in Sharon’s mind but she was delighted to swim pbs in both her 50m and 100m Freestyle. In the longer event Sharon’s time was over a second faster than she had just swum at Barnet the previous month.
Glenda Mayes recorded current year pbs, with her best placings being 5th in both the 60 – 64 years age group 50m Backstroke and 100m Individual Medley (“IM”). The latter was all the more pleasurable as it was not an event Glenda had swum before.
Having set himself high expectations, Graham Powell was at first disappointed by his results in the 60 – 64 years age group. However one gold, one silver and two bronze medals, three East Region and five Beds County Masters records from his seven events offered some consolation. A full set of medals came over 200m, 100m and 50m Backstroke with a further bronze in the 100m IM. The East Region records came in the 50m Butterfly, the 100m and the 200m Backstroke. Graham’s time in his 100m IM took nearly four seconds off that age group’s County record held by Colin Mayes. Colin nevertheless collected three bronze medals from his swims over 100m and 200m Breaststroke and the 200m IM. Team Luton’s third swimmer in that age group, Malcolm Barton, had set himself a challenging programme. He finished in 4th, 5th & 8th position over 200m, 100m and 50m on his preferred Breaststroke. A further 4th place came in the 200 IM and 5th position in both the 400m IM and the 800m Freestyle, earning Malcolm valuable points for the British Masters decathlon competition.
In the 55 – 59 years age group David Wright collected a gold for his 200m Butterfly to add to the long course (50m) title he won back in April at the GB Masters. He also collected bronze for his 400m Freestyle, taking over seven seconds off teammate Alastair Gibb’s Beds County Masters record. Dave also came fourth in both the 400m IM (in a pb) and the 800m F/s. Not content with excelling at the endurance events, Dave swam pbs in both his 50m Butterfly and Breaststroke events. Alastair, competing in the same age group, finished in the top ten in all six of his races. Five of those were completed in pbs for the year with his best placing of fifth coming in the 800m Freestyle, the final event of the meet.
John O’Rourke swam his best 200m Backstroke of the year by over 3 seconds to finish 8th whilst his 200m IM time was the fastest he had swum the event in over four years. Competing in the 45 – 49 year age group, John’s best placing was 6th in the 400m IM. For some reason just swimming a 100m Butterfly on its own in the last session seemed harder work!
In the same age group, Mark Wareham finished 6th in the 200m Backstroke and 9th in the 50m Backstroke. His swim in the latter event was over a second faster than he had swum the previous month.
Masters Coach, Pauline Harrington, was delighted to see all the hard work put into training over the past year generate individual success for everyone. Her words of encouragement clearly carried through to the squad’s camaraderie that prevailed when individuals finished events in which they rarely compete, was still present when swimmers were breaking fellow squad members’ County records and which helped “lift” spirits of everyone for their next race, however tired or disappointed they might have been.