Domestic delight for inaugural Fareham Nomads Masters Meet

Despite continued debate over whether Southampton Masters should look to host its own Masters competition, it was our amicable rivals down the M27 that took the bold step of introducing The Quays’ first event of such nature.


Fareham Nomads has become a Masters force of considerable recognition over the past year, with World Masters Champion Jo Corben dominating Backstroke races (often outside her own age-group) and John Molineux becoming double European Champion in 2016….in addition to increased depth of athletes helping them scale the annual County Masters Championship table. Certainly gives the ‘true reds’ of the South Coast something to think about!

The ‘Nomads’ moniker was quite apt for this inaugural event, given it was held on foreign soil here in Southampton – and provided an opportunity for the venue hosts to put up a show of their own. A 15-strong Southampton Masters contingent sacrificed a Saturday of West Quay Shopping and some local football match that I hear was somewhat important to take a pre-Nationals dip. Some familiar faces, including old comrades (Chris Jones – now Cardiff. Martin Bennell – now Fareham) made their mark, as did some welcome new ones.

Jess Farmer (18-24yrs) only a year ago battled severe health issues and has gradually been making her comeback on the Masters scene. A Silver in both the 50m Breast (0.44.31) and 100m Breast (01.36.80) in a competitive field added some much-needed confidence for the year ahead. Newcomer Hannah Dicker (25-29yrs) made an impressive debut winning the 50m Back (00.34.58) and runner-up in the 50m F/C (00.30.95).

Kae Neustadt (40-44yrs) made a loyal switch from Wyre Forest to Southampton to claim Top.10 finishes in the 100m IM (01.49.59) and 100m F/C (01.32.65), with fellow age-grouper Cathy Willcocks (40-44yrs) claimed Gold in the 100m Back (01.23.27). Sarah Aldridge (45-49yrs) went up against the formidable Mrs Corben for many of her sprint races, settle for bridesmaid position in most, but getting the better of the World Champion in the 50m F/C (00.30.12), whereas stalwart Amanda Rush (50-54yrs) took the honour of becoming the squad’s only double-champion at the event, with victories in the 50m Back (00.36.08) and 50m F/C (00.32.72). Natasha Bye-Brookes (50-54yrs) rounded off a successful afternoon for the ladies with Gold in the 50m Breast (00.45.42).

The Men faced stern competition from large contingents representing Teddington and Out to Swim, but took every opportunity to claim podium spots whenever they arose. Miro Sidor (30-34yrs) produced several Season’s Bests to take a pair of Silvers in the 100m IM (01.17.68) and 50m Breast (00.41.03), whilst Macro Montanari (35-39yrs) produced a gutsy display in the 50m Fly (00.30.54) to take the penultimate podium spot.

Chris Osman (35-39yrs) battled against both Leon Smith of Teddington and Chris Aust of Oxford valiantly, missing out on Gold in the 50m Breast (00.33.96) to Smith by 1/10th second, but snatching a Bronze in the 50m F/C (00.26.27) in a blanket finish. James MacTavish (35-39yrs) took advantage of the weakened 200m Fly (02.40.51) field to pick up the first Men’s title, and a Seasons Best in the 50m Back (00.32.62) to take Silver ahead of Portsmouth Northsea Veteran Ryan Clay.

Duncan Lip (40-44yrs) kept it simple with a solid 200m IM (03.06.70) to take Silver, whereas second debutant Mike Harding (45-49yrs) produced strong performances in the 50m (00.29.67) and 100m (01.07.46) F/C to kick-start his competitive Masters career with Top.10 finishes. Finally, Richard Osman (60-64yrs), despite getting off to a bad start with a DQ in the 100m IM, redeemed with the second Men’s title in the 50m Breast (00.56.91).

Thankfully, the event did also provide an opportunity to get some much needed relay practise with mixed 4 x 50 F/C and Medley events. As expected, the Nomads did dominate, with a string of victories across 72yrs – 200yrs, but the quartet of Osman / MacTavish / Dicker / Aldridge in the 4 x 50 F/C (120yrs) did spoil the party for Teddington, relegating them to Bronze by little under 1 second! This was however, reversed come the 4 x 50 Medley (120yrs), despite a last-leg venue blunder on behalf of the The Quays (suffice to say, if you’ve ever tried to a takeover in the dark, you’ll appreciate the challenge!) reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel!

The Southampton masters team

This was a fun, relaxed and well organised Meet on behalf of Fareham – with plenty of rivalry banter and some polished performances. Hopefully enough success to justify a second, and maybe even a regular spot in the official Masters calendar…and if The Quays remains the venue of choice, I’ll be looking to be the dominant force in 2019!

Full results from the competition are available to download from the Fareham Nomads website.

Medal Tally
GOLD : 8 
SILVER : 16 
TOTAL : 32 

James MacTavish 
CSSC Masters Coach