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Old 03-31-2009
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
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Default Gloucester Masters Meet 2009

Gloucester Masters Meet 2009

I attended my first Gloucester Masters meet in 2007, my first full year as a master swimmer, and it is undoubtedly one of my favorite meets of the year if not my absolute favorite.

Itís too far away from home to be done in one day so I usually take the opportunity to visit my sister who lives in the South West of England and take in the Gloucester meet on my way home. I usually enter a good few events and this year was no exception: I entered everything but the 100m butterfly, which is still beyond my capabilities. In fact if the stroke judge is at all strict the 50m butterfly is beyond my capabilities, but in the past the judges at Gloucester have been kind to me.

The meet opened with a new event on the program, the mixed 400m free, an event that doesnít turn up too often in short course meets. Even the 200m is relatively rare. I have swum several long course 400m races, but this was to be only my second short course one, and I was interested to note from the start lists that as well as myself and my friend Errol from Cardiff, there was an unusually large bunch of fast swimmers in our age group, including Geoff Stokes, the winner of the 1500m, 800m, 400m and 200m long course events at the Welsh Championships, who had set British records in all of them. My form has not been particularly good this year as a result of a scratch by the family cat, which has interfered with swimming practice, but I was hoping to at least get in under ten minutes, knowing that the winner was going to finish in not much more than five minutes. In the event I finished in a new best time for me of 9:47.79, not much faster than my time last year, but nevertheless not to be sniffed at. The winner broke the British and European records, finishing in 5:29.65. Naturally we did not swim in the same heat!

Next came the 50m breaststroke, in which I finished in 1:00.42, a couple of seconds off my best time, followed in relatively short order by the 100m backstroke, which I had decided to swim back crawl, rather than the two-arm style, at which Iím still slightly faster. I was the only entrant in my age group so I won in the slow time of 2:41.46, which I think is the fastest I have swum with crawl. I feel I beginning to make progress with backstroke but Iím still very slow.

The 50m butterfly then appeared on the program and I had said several times that if I was disqualified this time I would probably abandon the stroke forever, but as it turned out the judges were as lenient as usual and I managed to record a time of 1:22.58, not my fastest ever but my fastest legal time. This was good enough for third place as there were only three of us, the winner being the British record holder, in 35.40, with the man in second place finishing in 42.06. More work is obviously called for.

The 100m freestyle was the next event and the last before the lunch break. I managed a time of 2:05.21, slightly less than two seconds of my all-time best of 2:03.76 set in 2006 in my first 100m freestyle race ever. This is a mystery to me but I hope to creep down to below two minutes eventually. The 100m free seems a particularly tricky race to pace, as all-out sprinting is impossible but going out too slow is almost as fatal as going out too fast.

After lunch came the mixed 200m free, in which I swam 4:38.58, almost eight seconds off my best time but a best time for the year so far. Perhaps if the meet had opened with the 200m rather than the 400m I would have been faster. Geoff Stokes was the winner again but failed to break any records this time, not really having had enough recovery time since the morning. His time was 2:39.31.

The 100m IM was next on the program so after the ladies had done their stuff I dived in hoping that the judges would still be lenient on my butterfly. They were and I produced a personal best time of 2:31.62, almost half a minute faster than last yearís time. The winner, Don Leatherbarrow of Cinderford, finished in 1:39.59 and the man in second place, Malcolm Adkins of Shrewsbury, did 2:06.39.

Only a few events remained by this stage and I swam the 50m backstroke in 1:18.41 for second place. The winner John Tennant swam a more respectable 45.30. We were the only two in the age group. In the 100m breaststroke again there were only two of us and I swam a slow time even for me of 2:24.04, placing second behind Malcom Adkins, who finished in 1:54.69. So that left only the 50m freestyle, in which I managed a time of 58.93, placing third of three swimmers. John Tennant, who holds the British long and short course records for this event, did 30.29 and Don Leatherbarrow took second place with 32.89. These are times that I do for 25m in practice. More work on technique!

So all in all a good meet. Maybe next year I can enter all events and actually finish a 100m fly. Itís something to aim for.
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