Masters trio weather storm at rescheduled Royal Navy Meet

For most, March should signal the beginning of Spring, with clocks accelerating forward and hour and daffodil-punctuated vistas to bring out the Wordsworth in all of us….but not in 2018, as the ‘Beast from the East’ bombarded the South with blizzards and blankets of snow. This not only had an impact on Southampton’s own domestic meet, but also that of the Royal Navy Masters meet in rurally remote Millfield School.


Having become such a staple of the Masters calendar and supporting a strong cause in the Naval Veterans Association – it would have been a shame if the event was cancelled altogether. Thankfully, a new date was allocated in mid-May (with conversely, some of the best seasonal weather the UK had seen in many a year) and a last-minute scramble for referees, judges and timekeepers just managed to pay off.

Initially set for 175 competitors, the reschedule did sadly hit numbers with an approx. 30% no-shows – this did however, provide some improved opportunities for the loyal trio of Southampton Masters in attendance! Anthony Blake (30-34yrs) has endured a mixed early season training-wise, but with an aim to complete a 10k open water swim in August, some middle-distance pool racing was seen as an important milestone in preparation. A solid performance in the 400m FC (06.56.74) broke the all-important 7min marker for the 33-year old, although shy of the podium. The 200m FC (03.07.49) did find the medal-mark, securing silver ahead of a determined 100m Breast (01.39.83) and 50m Fly (00.42.32) rounded off two more Top.10 finishes.

Rob Langan (30-34yrs) similarly has had training interrupted with busy work/life balances, but still produced strong backstroke performances in the preferred 50m (00.31.52) and 100m (01.07.16) distances for double-silver. Dipping under the 28 second marker for the 50m FC (00.27.33) was enough to snatch the final podium spot amidst strong competition.

James MacTavish (35-39yrs) had it all to do against veteran Master and former Southampton University swimmer Jon Audis, double European Champion from 2016 in London. Thankfully, an early opportunity arose in the 100m Fly (01.07.82) when the Swindon Dolphin exceeded the 15m marker on the dive to hand the title to the Southampton Coach. Sadly, this was not to be repeated in the 50m Fly (00.30.97) as Audis took the Gold a comfortable 2 seconds ahead. The 200m FC (02.13.66) was set to be MacTavish’s prime race given the move to middle-distance, but some poor pacing led to a less-than-expected result, but enough to top a weakened field. The 100m FC (01.00.64) however saw a head-to-head with Portsmouth rival Ryan Clay, and a victory for the Reds by a narrow 1/10th second. The third meet title for the 36-year-old of the day.

Despite some very last-minute planning and anaemic heats, the event as always was well organised, disciplined and most of all, enjoyable. In stark contrast to many of the familiar Masters events (Counties, Regionals, Nationals), the Royal Navy Meet appears to epitomise what Masters swimming is all about – having a go! With exceptional facilities to boot, this is an event Southampton Masters will look to focus on more over the coming years, providing valuable experience for the newer members before the intensity of provincial competition.

Well done to all involved! 

Full results from the competition are available on the Royal Navy Swimming Association website.

Medal Tally :  
GOLD : 3 
TOTAL : 10 

James MacTavish
Masters Coach