Monday 15 October 2007

Eastern Region Masters Championships 2007

Above: Leading the Men's Open 100 Metres Freestyle at the Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre on Sunday October 14, 2007.

On Sunday I entered my first indoor swimming event since 1994. That was some 13 years ago! Having joined and started training with the West Suffolk Masters Swimming Club, I was invited to swim in two relays representing West Suffolk, and personally entered the 50, 100, 200 and 400 Metres freestyle in the 39-44 years old age group. Not being very fit for the event due to a long layoff after my channel swim, I was slightly apprehensive, especially as I hadn't competed indoors for so long. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

My first event was in the 400 Metres (16 Lengths) Freestyle. Having guessed my time at around the 5 Minute mark when I entered the event, I found that I was in fact in the last and fastest heat. There were some big powerful swimmers in the heat, with some incredibly fast entry times. However, the way masters events work, is that you swim by time, but you are in fact competing by age group. So I was swimming against some much younger swimmers than myself. After 8 lengths, I turned and felt absolutely knackered. As I rapidly felt myself getting slower and slower I thought about stopping to save myself for the other events, but then said to myself "Don't be so stupid. You've swum the channel. Just keep going". I pictured The General standing there not letting me get out. I kept going and finished in 6th and last place in the race, and was shot to bits when I had finished. I looked up on the electronic scoreboard (you don't have them in the channel) and noticed my time was 5 minutes, 24.99 seconds. I got out, dried off and went to see where I had come in my age group. I was delighted and astonished to be handed a Gold Medal because I had won my age group race! I had been the fastest of all the 39-44 year old swimmers. Weird isn't it? And there's more...

Above: Emmanuel Lorejo (left) and me prior to the Medley Relay swim, which was the only disappointment of the day.

We had a mixed two male/two female relay swim, which we were delighted to take 2nd and a silver medal in, only... we didn't get the silver medal as we were disqualified! Apparently, Emmanuel had done a flyer at the start, but under the current laws, you continue swimming and are disqualified at the end. I learnt something there then!

Above: Louise Tarbit (left) prepares to take over from me during the Freestyle relay which we did take a silver medal in.

Above: I dive in for the Mens 50 Metres freestyle which I took a silver medal in.

With 27 teams competing from all over the Eastern Region (Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire to name but a few) it was a great day and a fantastic experience which brough back many memories and rivalries. The person who beat me in the 50 and 100 Metres Freestyle, was none other than Steve Coe of Thetford who I used to have great battles with over 25 years ago! He beat me by 0.16 seconds in the 100 and 0.3 seconds in the 50 Metres Freestyle events! I sense a new rivalry will develop as and when I get my fitness back. Battle has commenced!

At the end of the day, I came home with 2 x Gold medals (200 & 400 Metres Freestyle) and 3 x Silver Medals (50 and 100 Metres Freestyle and the Mixed Freestyle Relay). It was a great day, with West Suffolk Masters Men's team finishing a fantastic second overall:-

1. Diss Otters - 470
2. West Suffolk - 361
3. Hadleigh SC - 329
4. City of Cambridge SC - 310
5. Thetford Dolphins SC - 299
6. Thurrock SC - 208
7. Stowmarket SC - 201
8. Romford Town SC - 200
9. Sudbury & District SC - 166
10. Witham Dolphins SC - 143
11. Chelmsford - 140
12. Colchester - 137
13. Harleston Piranhas - 130
14. Flitwick Dolphins - 111
14. Impington Masters - 111
16. Rochford & District SC - 100
16. East Anglisn Swallow Tails - 100
18. Ware SC - 97
19. Southend on Sea SC - 87
20. Beaver Masters Bedford - 80
21. Halstead SC - 74
22. Mildenhall SC - 62
23. Modernians SC - 57
24. Chatteris Kingfishers - 37
24. Hemel Hempstead - 37
26. Camden Swiss Cottage - 20
26. Spencer Swim Team - 20

Above (Left to Right): Gold, 3 x Silvers and another Gold for a successful afternoon's masters swimming.

My final individual event positions, in event order was as follows:-

400 Metres Freestyle - 1st - 5:24.99
100 Metres Freestle - 2nd - 1:06.28
50 Metres Freestryle - 2nd - 30.12
200 Metres Freestyle - 1st - 2:29.37

Thanks to our Coach, Struan Banfield for getting us to where we are, and well done to West Suffolk Masters on taking second place from 27 very good Masters Swim teams.

Wednesday 3 October 2007

My middle name is Johann...!?

Whats' that got to do with swimming I hear you ask? Well, it's simple really. Picklesmum has tagged me with a new blog game. Apparently I have to post the rules first, so I have cut and pasted hers so as not to get in wrong!

The Rules:

1) You have to post the rules before you give the facts.

2) Players must list one fact that is relevant to your life for each letter in your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name then use a name that you like.

3) When you are tagged, you must write a post containing your own middle name game facts.

4) At the end of your post, you must tag one person for each letter in your middle name. Don’t forget to comment them telling that they are tagged and to read your post to get the rules.

Having been "blog tagged" on my council website, I thought I would do this one on my swimming website, so here goes!

J is for Joy. The joy of winning my first ever swimming trophy and medal.

On Sunday July 08, 1973 I was presented with a trophy and medal (pictured above) by the then MP for Bury St Edmunds, now Sir Eldon Griffiths (who incidentally sponsored me for my channel swim in 2007, 34 years later!). It was for the boys 10 and under 1 length freestyle at The Corporation Baths in Bury St Edmunds.

Above: My diary entry from Sunday July 08, 1973. My writing hasn't improved much since then!

O is for Overjoyed! On Saturday May 27th 1978 I became the County Record Holder for 14/15 Years old 100 Metres Freestyle (60.09 seconds) at Mildenhall swimming pool in Suffolk!

Above: Report from the Bury Free Press, Friday June 02, 1978. (Click on report for larger version).

Unfortunately, I broke the county record in the heat, knocking 1.61 seconds off the previous record, only in the final to touch in exactly the same time (61.1 seconds, 0.2 seconds slower than my county record) as the swimmer from Mildenhall (Fritz Hyde IV). The touch judge, being from Mildenhall, gave the decision to the Mildenhall swimmer! I was the county record holder, he was the county champion even though he was 0.2 seconds slower than me! That's sport i'm afraid, although I didn't feel like that at the time. I was determined to beat him next time around!

Above: The 2nd place certificate for the 1978 boys 14/15 years 100 Metres Freestyle.

H is for Happy. Happy to win my first Suffolk County title!

Above: 3 weeks after breaking the county 14/15 100 Metres freestyle record, I became the county 14/15 100 Metres backstroke champion.

A is for Another two County swimming titles. This time, 1978 Suffolk Schools champion, 14/15 years 100 Metres Freestyle and Backstroke.

Following on from the above, I was on a real high, and no one was going to beat me at 100 Metres Backstroke or Freestyle again!

N is for Nigel. Nigel Stemp, my best friend, swim buddy, great swimming rival, drummer in my band The Teazers, and the best Butterfly swimmer I have ever known!

Above: Nigel Stemp (son of my channel swimming coach, John Stemp) in the changing rooms at the Bury St Edmunds Sports and Leisure Centre in 1979 (picture 1) and swimming in Norwich Swimming Pool in 1979 (pictures 2 & 3).

N is for Never, ever give up on a dream!

Having swum almost my entire life for the first 17 years of my life, I dreamed of swimming the English Channel for the next 27 years. I never gave up on that dream...

Above: Swimming with SuperTankers, July 10, 2007. The Day I Swam to France in 13 hours, 52 minutes.

Well I think I've spelt JOHANN out in full, in swimming terms at least. I now challenge Mark Robson, to do the same!