Coach covers the colours at Crawley

2018 begins, albeit with more of a whimper than a roar! A year which will witness the return of European Masters Championships in Slovenia and the mad scramble for National Qualifying Times began as always at the K2 Centre, Crawley and the SE Regional Long Course Event.


What has typically been a difficult event to garner interest, this year saw a deluge of early entrants resulting in an early cut off a month ahead of schedule – the 400m and 800m being the enticement. With very few Masters competitions between now and Nationals in June, there was ardent logic in the approach, however, what transpired over the weekend itself was somewhat of a juxtaposition. Clashing with Junior Counties across nearly all Regional areas, as well as the ‘Oceania Flu’ sinking its teeth into many a competitor, the final programme was anaemic to say the least.

Southampton Masters itself saw a 50% reduction in attendance – which in real terms actually only meant one absentee as the Reds were once again an on-paper duo of Anthony Blake (30-34yrs) and Coach James MacTavish (35-39yrs). Blake had just returned from a festive break in New Zealand, so at least had the very legitimate excuse of contracting the virus – although feeling better come the weekend, the Lemsip-filled fortnight before was enough to call time.

This left the last-man standing MacTavish to try to come away with some metal for the squad. Sacrificing the Saturday’s Butterfly events in favour of Sunday’s richer F/C ones, things got off to a modest start for the 36-year-old as the 100m F/C (01.02.58) was poorly paced with too much left at the end, but enough to snatch Silver behind a below-par Dave Ebanks of Romford. A swiftly followed 50m F/C (00.28.68) was a tight touch to secure the Bronze position, some way off leader Leon Smith of Teddington.

Finally, came the main event for MacTavish – falling into the category of so many others, the ‘clock any time’ for future competitions 800m F/C (10.22.89). Having managed to get into the competition when so many Masters left it too late did mean honouring the pledge and waiting around for 9 heats of 16 length swims from mostly 60yrs+ veterans in order to get a swim, but thankfully, it was worth it (sort of!)

Discipline from a 2017 of 1500m swims enabled a solid pace to be set and clear water post the 400m mark – and whilst the full day of competing did take its toll on the second half, a strong last 100m gave Southampton its first and only Gold of the event – and what by default, became a new Club Record and Masters PB.

So, a Gold, a Silver and a Bronze actually tops the medal tally from 2017 – with one swimmer! This was in part down to absentees, but had Blake also managed to attend, that figure could easily have been doubled given the lukewarm reception to his favoured Breaststroke races. In order to keep this event alive and thriving, it will become an objective for me as Masters Coach to get Southampton up there in force, and lead the way for other Hampshire Masters Club that also deferred the opportunity to race. Here’s hoping to more interest / success as the year goes on!

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

Medal Tally

James MacTavish
CSSC Masters Coach