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The great Wiltshire outdoors

Event: Wiltshire County ASA Open Water Championships Venue: Lake 32, Keynes Country Park Date: 22nd June 2014

This year’s Wiltshire Open Water Championships was as popular as ever with more than 60 competitors from across the county gathering for the event on the banks of Lake 32, Keynes Country Park last Sunday evening. Conditions were near perfect with virtually flat water at a relatively warm 21 degrees.

The high number of yellow shirts on lakeside backed up the Dolphin dominated start-list with 25 competitors in total. However, once swimmers had donned the regulation plain colour swim cap and took the short paddle to the start line, training team-mates became competitors and were barely recognisable amongst the other competitors once the racing had started.

As usual, drifting off course again played its part in the event, particularly for those more used to pool swimming and with limited exposure to open water competition.  Even acquiring the basic skill of “sighting”, the ability to lift ones head to see ahead and navigate a straight line course, can have significant advantages. Dolphin’s John Cholod suffered the embarrassment this year of losing his way missing a turn at one of the buoys during the 1,500m event. In the 11 year old 750m event, Kerry Rutherford suffered the same fate and despite having to stop for directions from one of the safety boats still picked up a silver medal for her efforts.

Dolphin’s Lauren Matthews made no such mistakes this year and took championship gold in the women’s 1,500m. Tigersharks’ Abigale Cook won the junior event with Dolphin’s Cathy Naus taking bronze. The mens 1,500m was won by Max Hazel of Bradford on Avon ahead of Dolphin’s Jake Lewis in the silver medal position. The swim also handed Lewis gold in the junior event ahead of Tigersharks’ Nathan Kennett in silver.

Dolphin competitors in the gruelling 3,000m event had varying degrees of open water experience. Colin Jones was competing in his first ever open water competition and at the other extreme was Helen Hanks who is no stranger to open water having a few weeks earlier won age group gold in the 10k Jubilee River Swim. The was a Dolphin clean sweep of championship medals for both the men and women with gold for Fraser Durston and Beth Crouch, silver for Jason Tait and Helen Hanks with Colin Jones and Bethany Durston picking up bronze. Bethany Durston also won the junior girls’ championship.

Swindon Dolphin Open Water Team

The events also included age group categories, including masters, with Dolphin dominating the medal positions. All those competing in the 3,000m had their half way split time included in the 1,500m results. In the 1,500m event, age group gold went to Lauren Matthews, Sarah Day, Helen Hanks, Jake Lewis, Doug Alexander and John Cholod, age group silver went to Cathy Naus, Megan Jones, Beth Crouch, Jo Blount, Miles Farrington, Jason Tait and Andy Garrett and whilst group bronze went to Becky Matthews and Dean Fouracre. Winning 3,000m age group gold were Bethany Durston, Beth Crouch, Helen Hanks, Fraser Durston, Jason Tait and Colin Jones.

Dolphin has recently started training sessions geared specifically towards open water swimming. Jason Tait, one of the open water coaching team commented, “I was proud to be part of such a great team today both from being a coach and a swimmer. It was very satisfying to see so many of the open water skills taught at the training sessions put into practice.”

Dolphin’s Chief Coach Louise Clayton was also pleased with the evening’s results. “It is great to see the club diversifying towards other disciplines such as open water and good that we are able to provide the resource to be able to support and develop it in a professional way”.


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