End of season medal rush for trio of Southampton Masters

With the Masters World Championships a month away, the annual Rushmoor Royals Long Course Masters Meet certainly sparked wider interest in 2017 than in previous years. What started out at an end-of-season long course review become an over-subscribed, event- trimmed, nationally-attractive gathering of the over-25yrs. Late entries were considered two weeks ahead of official closing, meaning only certain races were left available – not so great if you weren’t a Butterfly swimmer!

Southampton Masters has been hit and miss with this event over the years, skipping in 2016 due to a hectic Summer period of Nationals and Europeans, a relatively large contingent in 2015, and only a solitary entry in 2014. This year fell somewhere in the middle, with a trio of Reds making the trip to Aldershot Army Garrison Pool. It had to be said however, that despite what appeared to be a saturation of entries, on the day, a disappointing number from several large clubs failed to make an appearance, leaving heats 30% lighter and frustrating event organisers! Still, at least the Southampton contingent did honour their commitment.

James MacTavish (35-39yrs) was the only male representative, and fell into the trap of leaving entry late…resulting in a mixed bag of Butterfly and IM races! A slightly sluggish start on the 100m Butterfly (01.12.06) was enough to take the first Gold of the evening, swiftly followed by the 50m Butterfly (00.31.98), where the duo of Phil Pratt and Chris Knee of East Leeds relegating the 35-year-old to Bronze. Improved form was found however on the 200m IM (02.36.89), taking the Silver behind home favourite Hayden Burke.

Cathy Willcocks (40-44yrs) made a surprise appearance fresh from County success the month earlier to take Silver in both the 50m F/C (00.32.80) and 100m F/C (01.11.67), but rose to the occasion in the 50m Back (00.38.63) to take Gold from a weakened late-night field.

Sarah Aldridge (45-49yrs), one of four Southampton Swimmers setting their sights on Budapest in August, took the opportunity to practice her preferred F/C distances. The 100m F/C (01.07.65) was a shade down on her strong performance at Nationals in June, but enough to bring the team another Silver behind East Leeds Nina Williams. The 50m F/C (00.29.93) was a much closer affair, with the 47-year-old tying for Gold alongside Williams in a dead-heat (who said swimming doesn’t need photo finishes!?) A little more practice at reaching towards the end of the distance and she’ll take those precious margins required!

The victorious trio
From limited representation came a healthy haul of medals – little more could be asked, despite the tepid attendance in the end. Focus for some will now be Worlds of course, but for the remainder, the new season kicks off in October and the South East Regionals!

Full results from the competition are available to view on the British Swimming website.

GOLD : 3 

James MacTavish
CSSC Masters Coach