Solo Silvers and debut Gold for Regional Masters

2017 begins….perhaps with a less of a melee of activity and action as its direct predecessor given the loss of a domestic international competition waiting in the wings. That being said, the South East Regional Long Course Championships were still bucking the trend for Masters events, expanding on its entries once again and spreading word wider than the Home Counties…with East Leeds and Sterling making the roster!

This made for a mercurial challenge for the trio of Southampton Masters making the trip to K2, Crawley. In one way, the broader representation raised the standards to closely mirror Nationals, but equally, the balance was tipped away from our favour, as core age-groups typically seen as good medal hunting grounds for the Reds were saturated with talent! Could this be an early peak in performance for those hoping to make Worlds at Budapest later in the year?

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts for the Sotonians, with one member – Liam Small (30-34yrs) – having to pull out due to diary conflicts. That left Coach James MacTavish (35-39yrs) and newcomer Anthony Blake (30-34yrs) battling to secure podium places.

Blake joined Southampton Masters towards the end of 2016, having spent 13 years in Australia swimming for a variety of teams. The boy from Ireland illustrated his commitment to the sport from the word go, attending both weekly sessions, and always asking for tips on stroke improvement and technique. His first major UK Masters competition was hampered slightly through illness over the Christmas period, but nonetheless, a brave gambit on the 400m FC (07.36.54) did earn the 32 year-old the first Silver medal of the day – as well as providing a beneficial benchmark for future middle distance races! A swift transition from middle to short distance for the 50m Breaststroke (00.46.97) came just short of the podium, whereas the 100m FC (01.31.86) proved just how costly a festive bug can be! That said, a heroic effort on the 200m Breaststroke (03.59.69) saw Blake take advantage of a weak field and claim Southampton’s only Gold of the competition.

MacTavish begins 2017 slipping up to the top end of the 30yrs division, with some perhaps proclaiming a possible easier ride now that the shackles of early thirty-year old rivals have been lifted…if only that were the case! An uncharted 400m FC (04.55.48) challenged for Gold, only to miss out by 1.5 seconds! Still, a sub-five minute as a first attempt at F/C Middle distance, and missing the 35-year-olds treasured turns over long course did provide optimism should the occasion arise across 25m. Another hasty transition into 50m F/C (00.28.58) was perhaps too much for the fast-twitch muscles to bear, but more solid performances in the 100m F/C (01.00.71) and 100m Butterfly (01.10.86) were enough to secure Top.5 places in what seemed to be one of the more cut-throat age divisions of the event!

A quick mention to be made for soon-to-be newcomer Peter Solem (45-49yrs), swimming under West Wight for now, but planning a transition to Southampton later in the year. Having only taken up Masters swimming three years ago, the Polish-born took home a pair of Top.5 finishes in the 50 Breaststroke (0.42.92) and 100m Butterfly (01.29.15) – with more to come he promises!

Full results from the competition are available to view on the Swim South-East website.

A solid start to the Masters New Year…. if a little underwhelming in terms of Southampton support! There will be an active push to all 70 members of the squad to get back into skins and serve the colours as major championships approach.

Medal Tally

GOLD : 1
TOP.10 : 6

James MacTavish
CSSC Masters Coach