Gold rush for Masters at County Championships.
With a greater number of Southampton Masters entering this year’s County Championships at Aldershot than ever before, expectations were high as far a medal tallies were concerned. However, after a long afternoon of competing, those expectations were not just met – but far exceeded!
The twenty-five strong contingent once again saw star performances from Tina Parkin (50-54yrs) and Martin Bennell (35-36yrs), who after successful appearances at this year’s National LC Championships, were looking to clean up in their respective age groups. Tina led the gold medal haul for individuals with 7, and took Hampshire records for the 50m Back and 50m Breast in the process. Martin equally impressed taking 5 county titles and a hat-trick of record swims in the 50m / 100m Breast and 50m Fly.
Masters newcomer Sam Wilton (18-24yrs) made an impressive debut at County level with 6 Gold medal winning swims. The former Age-Group National swimmer dominated the breaststroke events, and went away with a SC season’s best in the 100m Breast. In the same age-group, Hannah Glasspool and Anthony Hackett both claimed titles, with additional newcomers Jess Bower and Alan Dufty also notching up podium finishes.
Another swimmer enjoying debut success was Robert Gilbert (25-29yrs) – who following an absence from the pool for over three years, returned to take all three Backstroke titles (25m/50m/100m). Not to be outdone, from the same division came James Wilson who, despite only starting competitive race swimming 5 months ago, stormed to victory in the 25m Breast.
From the Southampton veterans came quality performances we’ve all come to expect. Jerome Bakker (45-49yrs) moved up an age category, and in doing so took new Hampshire Records in the both the 50m and 100m Back. Rachel James (40-44yrs) dominated the Freestyle races (25m / 50m / 100m) and came away with a superb 6 Golds for her efforts. Both Carol Pierce (55-59yrs) and Chris Osman (30-34yrs) showed their class with more County records in the 200m Free and 50m Free respectively.
Further championship title swims came from Alistair Garmendia (25-29yrs), Amanda Rush (40-44yrs), Andy Hurford (30-34yrs), Karen Blanchard (50-54yrs), Sarah Hunt (30-34yrs) and team coach James MacTavish (30-34yrs).
The Blue Ribbon races at Masters County Level have always been the relays – an area where Southampton have impressed year on year, with 2012 being no exception! In the 72yrs+ division, the team were out to defend their title, but a strong quartet from Basingstoke was enough to push the A Team relay of Glasspool, Hackett, Wilton and Water Polo player Faye Gillard (18-24yrs) into bridesmaid position for both the 4 x 25m Medley and Free races. The B team of Dufty, Bower, Gilbert and regular Kae Neustadt (35-39yrs) swam strong to round off the top three.
It was a different story in the 120yrs+ division, with the A and B teams going head-to-head for the title in the 4 x 25m Medley – the A team of Garmendia, Bennell, Hunt and James just clinching it with little over 1/10th of a second to spare in a new County record. A quick team reshuffle and the introduction of double National Masters SC champion Johan Levander (30-34yrs) into the mix saw the A team take the 4 x 25 Free title in another record time, with a strong team from Basingstoke standing between them and a quality effort from the B Team.
The 200yrs+ made their debut at last year’s championships, coming away with a Bronze in the 4 x 25 Free. This year, the experience of Parkin, Pierce, Bakker and stalwart Graham Cawte (50-54yrs) saw the team go one better with second. Perhaps the surprise of the night though came from the 200yrs+ B team, which saw Louise Kathro (50-55yrs), Richard Osman (55-59yrs), Toby King (40-44yrs) and Blanchard hold back a strong field to take the Bronze.
In total, the squad’s performance returned a record haul of 55 Gold, 28 Silver and 29 Bronze – with 11 new County Championship best performances. This was amazingly DOUBLE the medal tally from last year, but perhaps, more satisfying though, was the fact that no swimmer from the team left without a medal – a testament determination and the ‘In it to win it’ mentality!
Sadly despite some phenomenal racing, the top club trophy went to Basingstoke for the third consecutive year – largely due to their superior numbers (30 plus). However, the second place achieved by Southampton saw their winning points margin reduced significantly, and with more and more swimmers joining the team in red and white – expect 2013 to be a real show down!
Full results are available to download here.
Medal Totals (2011 figures)
GOLD: 55 (32)
SILVER : 28 (26)
BRONZE : 29 (11)
RECORDS : 11 (6)
CLUB POSITION : 2 (3)
CSSC Masters Coach