Members of the masters squad of Exmouth Swimming and Life Saving Society once again represented their club in the British Gas ASA National Masters and Senior Age Group Championships at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield over the weekend of the 24th – 26th October.
The squad had one of their most successful weekends of swimming in over 6 years, and huge thanks must be extended from the team to their dedicated coach Bob Clarke.
The squad set off from Exmouth Leisure Centre at 7am on Friday morning ready for an afternoon and evening of competition.
First up were Tara Dudley, Christa Page, Richard Lander and Adam Tapp competing in the 4 x 200m mixed freestyle relay in the 100-120 age group category. The team were ranked second on entry, behind the team ranked first by 5 seconds. The race began and it was evident that it was going to be a close race, Exmouth eventually coming through to win the first team gold of the weekend thanks to a great team performance in a time of 9.17.45 beating the second place team by 10 seconds. A great start to the weekend.
The afternoon session then saw Philippa O’Grady swim in the 200m Butterfly race and gain a silver medal in the 45-49 age group.
The already successful session continued with six Exmouth swimmers taking to the pool for the 50m backstroke race. In a fast paced session out of the six swimmers four were placed within the top 10 nationally in their respective age group with Peter Gilpin narrowly missing out on a medal coming 4th and Heidi Hunt winning a silver medal in the 40-45 age group.
The evening session was quickly upon the team and this session saw the ever popular 100m Freestyle race hotly contested. The squad had ten entrants in this event and although no medals were won there were some fantastic swims from Neville King and Adam Tapp, who swam their best times since 2009, Jamie Page who swam a master’s personal best of 1.00.09 and Olly White who broke the minute barrier in a time of 59.70 for only the second time in 5 years.
After a restful evening Saturday began the same as Friday with a closely fought relay. Robert Macey, Warren Barrett, Heidi Hunt and Tara Dudley took to the pool to compete in the 4 x 50m medley relay. After one of the most competitive races of the weekend so far, the team eventually came 5th missing out on third place by only 5 tenths of a second.
Saturday continued with another successful swim from Neville King who completed the 400m Freestyle event in 5.00.67 smashing his personal best time by 7 seconds in the process. In the ladies event Adele Parham swam a time of 5.27.82, gaining Adele a fourth place and her second best time since 2007.
Next up was the 100m butterfly event where Exmouth had 3 entrants. In the ladies event Philippa O’Grady swam a master’s personal best time of 1.12.41 and winning a bronze medal for her efforts. In the men’s race Richard Lander and Adam Tapp swam 2 good swims of 1.06.87 and 1.02.66 coming 17th and 8th respectively.
Saturday afternoon produced the second team gold of the weekend with Richard Lander, Olly White, Jamie Page and Adam Tapp taking to the water to win the 4 x 200m freestyle race in the 120 – 159 age group.
After this success Jamie Page and Olly White went straight into the 100m breaststroke race. A head to head race that always produces something special. Jamie produced a personal best swim of 1.14.32 but just lost out to Olly who beat Jamie’s time by 8 hundredths of a second in a time of 1.14.24 his best time since 2010. Jamie and Olly were placed 11th and 10th respectively.
The next event, the 50m freestyle is always the most popular event of the weekend with over 300 entrants in the men’s and over 250 entrants in the female event. Exmouth had 10 swimmers competing with many good swims from everyone, the highlights being Heidi Hunt gaining a 5th place and Pete Gilpin gaining a 6th place overall.
Saturday afternoon’s penultimate event saw Ross Donaldson and Adele Parham competing in the 200m Backstroke event. Ross swam a time of 2.36.95 only 6 hundredths of a second away from his personal best and Adele finishing in a time of 3.07.97. Both Ross and Adele won a 5th place for their efforts.
Saturday afternoon then finished in high speed fashion with Tara Dudley, Heidi Hunt, Philippa O'Grady and Adele Parham competing in the 4 x 50m medley relay team event. The team who were in the 160-199 age group produced a great swim and finished in fourth place, missing out on a medal by under 2 seconds.
The Saturday evening session started with another popular race, the 50m butterfly. The squad had 8 entrants in the event who all produced great swims with many personal best times. Warren Barrett produced the swim however, that gave Exmouth their first individual gold medal of the weekend winning the 25-29 age group in a time of 25.90.
The session quickly moved onto the 400m Individual Medley where Adele Parham and Heidi Hunt competed in their age groups. Heidi competing in the event for the very first time swam a time of 6.16.02 coming 4th in the 40-44 age group. Adele however swam the race in a time of 6.14.90 and with this gained Exmouth their second individual gold winning the 45-49 age group.
The evening session ended with another medal in the ladies 4 x 50m freestyle relay. Heidi Hunt, Philippa O'Grady, Adele Parham and Tara Dudley won bronze in the 160 – 199 age group.
The last day of the event was upon the team, and it was evident tiredness was starting to creep in. This did not stop the team however. Sunday morning started with the 100m Backstroke in which Exmouth had 4 competitors. The race produced a further two bronze medals adding to the squads ever increasing medal tally with Heidi Hunt producing her second best time since 2007 of 1.13.58 and Peter Gilpin finishing in a time of 1.16.33.
Up next was the 200m freestyle age group that saw Exmouth’s youngest competitor, Jack Moss come 15th in a time of 2.09.83 in the 19-24 age group. Neville King continued his successful weekend swimming a new personal best of 2.22.06 to come 10th in the 40-44 age group. To finish the event off Alison Browning swam a time of 2.34.83 to give Exmouth another 5th place in the rankings.
Sunday morning’s session finished with another popular event, the 50m Breaststroke competed in by 8 Exmouth swimmers. The event again produced lots of great swims with another head to head swim between Olly White and Jamie Page, Page this time coming out victorious in an all-time best of 33.33. It was Heidi Hunt however who added to the medal tally with a silver medal swim in a time of 36.07 in the 40-44 age group.
After a much needed rest after an eventful morning session, Sunday’s afternoon session started and first up were competitors in the 200m Individual Medley. Christa Page swimming in the event for the very first time produced a fantastic swim and finished in a time of 2.49.29 to come 4th in the 35-39 age group. This was however, to be the event that produced the squad’s third individual gold medal of the weekend with Philippa O’Grady producing her best time since 2010 to win gold in the 45-49 age group.
To finish the weekend off, Neville King and Adam Tapp made the squad wait for the long trip home for a little longer by competing in the 800m freestyle event. Both Neville and Adam produced what can only be described as “metronomic” swims, with each 50 meter split time being within hundredths of a second of the others, testament to their training regime put in place by their experienced coach Bob Clarke. Neville finished in a time of 10.28.75 smashing his previous personal best by a massive 19.07 seconds, and Adam finishing in a time of 9.44.45 his best time since 2009. Both Neville and Adam gained 5th place in their age groups.
Overall Exmouth had what is arguably one of their best National Events yet, with a medal tally of 5 Gold, 3 Silver and 4 Bronze, and 48 swims which all placed within the top 10 nationally. Exmouth train at Exmouth Swimming Pool, run by Leisure East Devon and have sessions most nights of the week and some mornings.
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