In the UK, masters pool competitions take a break over the summer* so open water events offer something to aim for until the autumn race season kicks back into gear.
The open water summer season culminates with Swim England Open Water Masters National Championships, this year taking place on Sunday 1st September at Nene Park, Peterborough. The championships offer 2km, 3km and 5km events for both men and women. Black Country n Potteries swimmer, Anne Turner, had signed up at the last minute to take part in the 3km event.
It was a sunny, but windy day at Nene Park on 1st September. The venue was brilliant; amazing changing facilities, hot showers, a cafe, and plenty of space for spectating. The atmosphere was a friendly and happy one, and the event was well coordinated with clear race briefings, and plenty of officials and volunteers on hand. There was even race commentary provided by James Gibson – GB Olympian and the coach to several World Champions – which was a really nice touch and made it all feel a bit special.
The weather gods had been having fun in the lead up to Nationals, and water temperatures in the run up to the event ranged from a high of 24C to a low of 18 degrees. FINA Open Water competition rules dictate that when water temperatures are above 20C wetsuits are not permitted, and below they are optional down to 18C. From 16C they become mandatory. In the end, the water temperature was recorded at 19.3 so wetsuits were permitted, and were by far the most popular option.
Anne’s race went well, and she got off cleanly from the start letting the sprinters fight it out and settling in behind. Anne was racing against some good competition, with a World silver medalist among them but felt that a medal wasn’t entirely out of reach. Delivering a well controlled swim, Anne came home convincingly in silver medal position, “I couldn’t have swum that race any better than I did, all I can do is work on getting stronger and faster for next time”.
*Masters swimming in the UK has two main blocks of competitions; March to June culminating with British Masters LC Championships, and then September to November with SC Nationals taking place at the end of October. These dates sometimes shift around a bit depending on International events such as Worlds and Europeans.