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.