Between 25th and 29th May 2016 a team of 16 Dolphin Masters competed in the European Masters Championships at the Aquatic Centre in London’s Olympic Park. They did themselves and the club proud with their performances in the pool – producing medals, a British Record and a host of Lifetime Bests and other personal targets.
The Venue The 2016 European Masters Championships were held at the Aquatic Centre in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. The prospect of swimming in the pool that hosted the 2012 London Olympics was a huge incentive to many Dolphin Masters. But the popularity of the event did have a downside. The entry process was less than ideal and as a result the pool time was massively oversubscribed. This meant that both the Main and Warm-up pools at the Aquatic Centre were used for competition. Unfortunately, this had two impacts: • Half the swims were in the warm-up pool – so the swimmers didn’t experience the atmosphere in the Main Pool and spectators had to watch their swims on the big screen in the Main Pool or via the live website feed • Warm-ups were VERY short (typically 7-10 minutes) and VERY busy (in some cases 590 swimmers in the pool at one time) which made it difficult for swimmers to get the preparation they needed to swim at their best
Day 1 – Wednesday 25th May Nigel Masters kicked things off by winning his heat with a sparkling 2:27:72 – an Age Group PB – making him 4th overall and 2nd of the British swimmers who competed in his Age Group. Stuart Gibbs then put in a Lifetime Best for his 200IM with a 2:34:37 – making him 16th overall and 2nd of the British swimmers. Finally, Doug Alexander achieved a season best with 2:38:98 (34th overall, 8th of the British swimmers). After lunch, Dave Philips put in a creditable 10:23:93 in the 800m Freestyle. A Long Course PB and 27th overall, 11th of the British swimmers.
Day 2 – Thursday 26th May Ciara Montague stormed off the blocks in the 200m Freestyle and led the heat from start to finish, setting a new Lifetime Best of 2:38:48 (beating a time she set at age 16) and making her the 16th Fastest Brit. Next up was the 50m Breaststroke where Jo Blount took nearly a second and a half off her Lifetime Best to register 42:35. Alison Nye (a Dolphin who was swimming under another flag due to relay record attempt) posting a very respectable 41:42 in the same event. Next up were the boys, Dean Fouracre and Stuart Gibbs. Stuart carried on his great form by coming 3rd in his heat with a Lifetime Best of 34:35 and after some organizational issues at the pool and a few hours later than scheduled, Dean set a Long Course PB of 41:40.
At this point I would like to tell you about the first heat of the 50 Breaststroke (but the same comment applies to the other 50m first heats that followed). The atmosphere up till this point had been quiet, almost subdued. The heat consisted of 8 swimmers – all over the age of 80 and three swimmers over 90. They dived in, surfaced, and in a spontaneous reaction the whole arena erupted into cheering and applause until the last swimmer had completed their race. A tribute to those swimmers who are an example to us all.
Men’s 100m Fly came next. Stuart clocked in a Season Best of 1:13:29 whilst Doug set an Age Group PB of 1:09:09 – his best time for 6 years. Louis Darrock went out like a train in 31 seconds but suffered in the last 10m – however, he still set an Age Group PB of 1:12:85.
Day 3 – Friday 27th May 200m Fly up first with the boys now moved down to Pool 2 and the girls up in the main pool (Pool 1). Lucy Powell swam a strong, consistent race – setting a new Lifetime Best of 3:04:02. The coverage of Pool 2 on the big screen was somewhat limited. Cameras followed the leader for much of each race, so unless a swimmer was close by, there wasn’t much to see until the end. We didn’t see much of Louis Darrock until the end but Louis gave it absolutely everything and got an Age Group PB. Next up in Pool 2 was Jon Audis, making his first swim of the championships in the 50m Backstroke. Jon put in a time of 28:65, a Season Best (4th overall,2nd of the British swimmers). We then had four swimmers in the 100 Breaststroke split with the girls in Pool 1 and boys in Pool 2. Katie Hislop swam strongly to get an Age Group PB of 1:22:19 (6th overall and 4th of the British swimmers). Jo Blount continued her great form with a Lifetime Best of 1:30:85 – over 3 seconds better than she’d ever swum the event before. Nigel Masters then chipped in with another Age Group PB and a time of 1:13:37 (8th overall and 2nd of the British swimmers). Dave Leonard was targeting an improvement on his Lifetime Best of 1:19:76 (Short Course).He achieved a stunning 1:18:61.
The final individual event of the day was Dave Phillips in the 400m Freestyle – his first swim in the Main Pool. Dave pulled out a time of 5:04:79 – a Long Course PB.
And then we came to Dolphin Masters’ first relay of the championships – the Mixed Medley. Jon Audis’ Backstroke gave the team a 5m lead at the end of the first leg. Nigel Masters increased this slightly with his Breaststroke leg. Lucy Powell (Fly) and Katie Hislop (Front Crawl) didn’t give an inch back over their legs. A tremendous swim by all four won their heat by a clear 5+ seconds, leaving them 18th overall and 7th of the British teams. A great end to a great day’s swimming.
Day 4 – Saturday 28th May Jon Audis first up in the 200m Backstroke. Jon destroyed the field in the first 100m and then hung on with huge determination in the second hundred, as one swimmer clawed his way back to within a couple of metres. Jon dug deep and won the race in 2:15:09, claiming a Season Best and the European Title.
Lucy Powell went an hour or so later in the 50m Fly – winning her heat in 32:37 (another Age Group PB) and coming in as the 12th placed British swimmer in the event. At this stage of Day 4 it became obvious that the relays at the end of the day were slipping further and further back – the Dolphin team were now not likely to swim before 12:20am (i.e. after midnight). This was compounded by the fact that three of our four relay swimmers in the Dolphin team had to be back at the pool by 6:30 the following morning for their individual events. After discussions with the relay team, we reluctantly decided to withdraw from the relay. The final swims of the day for Swindon Dolphin would be the 100 Freestyle. Chris Anderson put in a 1:07:25, Kath Baker followed with a 1:06.68. Katie Hislop swam a 1:05.33 and Lucy Powell got a 1:08.13. Jo Blount & Ciara Montague registered Lifetime bests of 1:15.65 & 1:11.01 respectively.
Day 5 – Sunday 29th May- THE FINAL DAY ! 200m Breaststroke was the first event of the day. Anthony Clark powered to an impressive second in his heat in a Season Best 2:56:26. Nigel Masters then put in another Age Group PB of 2:40:66 (7th overall, 2nd of the British swimmers). Katie Hislop put in an impressive 2:59:60 (6th overall, 5th of the British swimmers) whilst Kath Baker contributed a solid 3:04:94. Next event was the 50 Freestyle. Ciara Montague completed a full house by setting another Lifetime Best of 31:90. Chris Anderson set an Age Group PB – breaking the 30 second barrier with a 29:98. Then we came to the last individual event of the championships – the 100m Backstroke. Louise Knight joined the team for this – putting in a Lifetime Best of 1:30:09. Then came Jon Audis in Pool 2, following his success in the 200 Backstroke, was hungry for more. Seeded 6th in the heat, he flew out of the blocks and won Gold – breaking his own British Record to set a time of 1:00:66. And finally Medley Relays. First up were the men – Jon Audis (Back); Nigel Masters (Breast); Doug Alexander (Fly); Dave Leonard (Front Crawl). Jon started strongly, giving the team a 4m lead with a 28:21 for the Back, Nigel increased the lead slightly on his leg of the race. Doug set a Season Best but was up against a strong field who reeled us in a little. Dave set off with a 2m lead over the swimmer in the next lane and by the 25m mark it was a two horse race with both swimmers almost neck and neck. Then Dave, who had never swum below 30 seconds for a Long Course 50m Freestyle, got his head down and powered through to register 28:39 and win the heat for Swindon Dolphin. 21st overall and 6th in Britain.
The Dolphin women came next and did us proud. Louise Knight (Back); Kath Baker (Breast); Lucy Powell (Fly); Katie Hislop (Front Crawl). Louise started with a Lifetime Best of 40:48. Kath (39:16) and Lucy (32:22) made up ground on the field with strong swims. Katie put in a storming 28:24 to finish. 13th overall and 7th in Britain.
To see all the SD photos taken during the week, please visit the clubs FB page.