Open Water Club Champs

Well it turned out nice didn’t it… On Friday 1st September around 170 members of Swindon Dolphin descended on Waterland Outdoor Pursuits for the inaugural Swindon Dolphin Open Water Club Championships and Social.  With the huge disappointment of the Wiltshire ASA Open Water Championships being cancelled for two years running the club decided to take the bull by the horns and run our own event.

We had 56 swimmers enter the various events in distances ranging from a splash and dash for our youngsters through to 3km for the brave, hardy and experienced.  FINA rules were followed with regards to wetsuit use and with the temperature  at 20 degrees it fell safely into the wetsuit optional category, so a mix of swimmers took to the water in both suit and skins (non wetsuit).  The setup was all ready; Swimmers keen, Starter poised, safety cover on the water, observation boat ready and the timers “balanced’ (literally) on the jetty and somebody ordered great weather and on the water conditions.

The 3km swimmers took off first for their 4 laps of the 750m buoyed course.  This was the smallest event with a field of 6 swimmers.  The overall winner was Will Davies who came in with an impressive time of 39mins 59 seconds, just scrapping under the sub 40min barrier.  Hot on his heels was Henry Rideout just 11 seconds later, an impressive swim from an age group below will and both swimmers showing huge potential in the open water discipline.  In the ladies race Hannah Bailey headed the pack, coming in to touch at 52 mins 56 seconds, taking the overall title for the ladies 3km.

The 1.5km event saw the biggest field of the evening with National & Performance squad targeting it as a key event, we hope to see many of you signing up for the Cotswold BIG Swim on the 16th September as Team ‘Swindon Dolphin ASC’.  National Open Water Qualifier Cathy Naus unsurprisingly put in a stunning swim, only just missing out on a sub 20min 1500m with a 20min and 1 second effort, winning both the ladies event and the event overall.  Luke Morgan took second place with 20min 29 seconds with Denice Gardo coming in third with a time of 21min 37seconds.

The last competitive event was the 750m event, targeted at our younger swimmers who did not let us down and show a huge amount of potential for driving the open water discipline forward for the club forward in future years. Overall winner was Ben Tait, very closely followed by Freddie Carter in the closest finish of the night.  A sprint finish saw the swimmers separated by just 0.07 of a second.  In third place was Lewis Kane, who won the 11 year category. More importantly from these 3 swimmers they showed great team spirit which I will close this post with below.

As a club running our own event we were able to give the opportunity to our under 11 year olds to race, either in the 750m (where signed off by the coach) or in our taster time trials of 400m and Splash and Dash (distance around 100m).  Usually in a county event only swimmers aged 11 plus can take part so we really were breaking from the norm.  Our youngest swimmers in these events were just 7 years old and did amazingly well.  The aim of swimmers trying something new and enjoying it was measured in the smiles as they came out of the water.  Well done to all who took part and challenged themselves and a special thanks to both Colin & Dean who got back in with the smaller swimmers after competing in their own events.  Waterland Outdoor Pursuits team were also fantastic, making sure all swimmers were safe in the water from their vast experience of safety cover for events, alongside some very keen parents who paddled and, of course who can forget Coach Gerry Kane on the SUP board.

During and after the fun and games in the water the social was in full swing with burgers and sausages being enjoyed by all.  We would like to say a massive thank you to those who manned the BBQ and made it an enjoyable foodie evening for everybody.  A massive thanks must also go out to everybody who helped officiate and make things run very smoothly.  Dean, Glenys and myself will be looking at dates for this event next year, and we will take on board the feedback from this years event to make 2018 event bigger and better (namely timings of the splash and dash and 400m events).  Full Results for podium places can be found on the clubs website under the Open Meets section or click here.

This event will be back next year, but if you have got the open water bug that requires one more hit in 2017 then please join team Swindon Dolphin ASC at the Cotswold big swim on September 16th.  You can enter the 1 MILE event if you are 16 years and over (by 31/12/2017) and help fly the flag for the cub to a wider audience, and potentially win a trophy.  Sign up NOW before entries close at http://www.triferris.com/bigswim/index.html

Now for that finishing story.  To me this exemplified the true ethos of a great club, showing compassion, teamwork, sportsmanship and working together.  The first three swimmers in the 750m event showed all of this and should be congratulated.  With one of the swimmers being slightly nervous of the environment and weed these swimmers decided that they would work together to make sure the more anxious swimmer finished their race.  From the observation boat I was piloting I constantly heard them checking on each other, making sure each was ok, deciding who was going to lead the next section etc.  As a coach (and as a parent to one of the boys) this made me extremely proud to be part of this club and what we were pioneering in the lake.  All three of those swimmers finished with a smile and the memories of their first open water event will be made positive by it.  The racing came in the final 100m or so when they could see the end and decided they would race for it.  If you are reading this and have never swum open water it can be a hugely daunting thing to do, and I’ve seen some very fast swimmers crumble apart in the open water environment.  The skills these swimmers exhibited are key Open Water racing skills, albeit when they are older they won’t be chatting and telling each other their plans 🙂

Ben Tait, Freddie Carter and Lewis Kane, take a bow.  You showed true spirit and camaraderie and for me, it is the lasting memory of a fantastic event…… the first of many.

Jason Tait on behalf of the organising panel (Dean Fouracre, Glenys Lock)

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