Record Breaking Masters

Saturday 1st October saw Swindon Dolphin Masters make the journey down to Salisbury for the 3rd and final round of the 2016 Wiltshire Masters competition.  Having fallen behind after Round 1 and pulled back points in Round 2, we went into Round 3 ahead by just a single point.  It was always going to be a challenge holding on to our lead in Salisbury’s home pool.  The strength and depth of the Salisbury team was evident from the program with 114 individual race entries compared to Dolphin’s 87, and this was to be reflected in the overall scores at the end of the night.

It was a night of mixed emotions for the Dolphin team.  Multiple county record holder and team anchor Katie Hislop swam her last competition for the club before her 2 year posting to far flung corners of the world (including Yorkshire); while a number of swimmers joined the team for their first Wiltshire Masters experience – including Gemma Evans, Jack Church and Manuel Conte.  Also making a welcome return to representing the club was John Drake – showing he hasn’t lost any of his old form by breaking the 40-44yr 25m Backstroke County Record and narrowly missing the 25m Fly record (by just a few hundredths of a second).

Other notable achievements on the night:  Ciara Montague came joint 1st in the Women’s 39yr & Under Category (winning a trophy!), joint with Rebecca Smith from BOA; County Records for Alison Nye in the 100m IM, 50m Brs, 25m Fly & 50m Frs; more County Records for Katie Hislop in the 50m Brs & 25m Fly

As for the racing on the night – despite the usual relaxed, friendly and fun atmosphere which is quite unique to Masters competitions – in the pool every swimmer (ranging from 19yr – 84yr) was chasing valuable points for their club (1st = 3pts, 2nd = 2pts and 3rd = 1 pts for each event/age group), with Salisbury’s strength in depth ultimately pushing them on to become the overall County Masters Champions for 2016.

The last event on the night was “The Head Cup”, this is a 6x25m Freestyle relay, where the rules are quite simple.  Each team must comprise 3 men + 3 women and you can only have 1 swimmer in any 10year age group.  For Dolphins, Katie Hislop was first up and gained a valuable body length over the first 25m.  Dave Ingram followed, maintaining this lead before handing over to Alison Nye who, like Katie, added a further body length to the Dolphin lead.  Next up was Dean Fouracre, who dug deep to hold the lead steady going into the last two swimmers.  The relay 5th leg was Charlotte Gardo, following the precedent set by other the ladies in the team and increasing Dolphin’s lead by a further 2 metres.  Charlotte handed over to Manuel Conte who clocked an impressive 12 seconds for the final length, meaning the team finished a clear 15m ahead of second place.  Swindon Dolphin wins The Head Cup for the first time since 2006!  Another trophy for the cabinet.

Masters Coach Colin Jones: “…I’m proud to be part of such a talented team of swimmers.  Even though we finished 2nd to Salisbury this year (and congratulations to Salisbury on a deserved championship), the margin of 51 pts is a huge improvement over the last three years where we have been 223 pts (2015), 204 pts (2014) and 191.5 pts (2013) off the top spot.  What’s more, we are improving in all levels and age groups and have the swimmers at the club to win this next year.  If we can follow Salisbury’s example and get as many of our Masters competing as possible, we can be the top team in the county…”

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