18 swimmers from OTS headed out west to Plymouth for this year’s National Longcourse Champs. The turnout from our club was incredible and made us the largest male team in country, third largest overall.
Day 1 started very strong; in the 50m Freestyle, Neal Thomson, Stephen Lue and Matthew Lue each claimed Gold in their age group, showing our dominance in this event. Chris Morgan claimed Silver in a strong 200m Fly and the 100m Breaststroke saw Daniel Hadden and Ian take Bronze in the 100m Breaststroke. Jonathan Randstrand also clocked a significant PB in this event finishing 7thin a competitive age bracket. Chris Preston took his first medal of the meet with Bronze in the 200m Backstroke. The highlight of the day was the 4 x 100 Freestyle relay teams, where OTS claimed Gold in the 100+, 120+ and 160+ age groups.
The medals on Saturday started slower with a string of painfully close 4th place swims from Andrew Benson, Stephen Lue, Chris Preston and Ian, however the 200IM broke this run after Neal Thomson took Silver in his age group. Stefano Rigoni and Chris Morgan also took Bronze in their age groups, Christophe Donot just a fraction behind in 4th. Daniel Hadden added to his 100m medal with a Silver in the 200m Breaststroke. The gold rush continued in the 100m Freestyle as Neal and Matthew added to their 50m titles confirming them as the Sprint Kings of the meet! Some great performances from Christophe, Ian and Tom Harris getting very close to the minute mark. Will Nathan smashed the marker with a 57.70 time!
The relays on Saturday again were a golden moment as Johnathan, James Haining, Aitor Rey and Stephen Clark won the 100+ age group in the 4 x 50 Freestyle. Will, Christophe, Stefano and David McLaughlin claimed Silver in the 120+ age group. The previous British record holders of Neal, Andrew, Stephen and Matthew were out to reclaim this and came very close with a 1:39.10 swim for the 200m, Matthew finishing with a 22.9 second split for the last 50m. The 4 x 50 Medley event was just as successful with Silvers for Christophe, Ian, Dan, Aitor, David, Stephen, James and Jaime. By this point every member of the squad had claimed at least one medal.
A Sunday morning 400m IM is never a nice way to start the day, but despite the aches from 2 days of racing Chris Morgan and Stefano claimed Gold and Silver respectively in their age groups with some really dedicated swims. Neal Thomson then made it a Freestyle triple by taking Gold in the 200m event, a remarkable weekend for him. The final 4 x 100 Medley relays saw everyone give their all with Silvers for David, Daniel, Stefano and Ian in the 120+ age group, and Bronze for Will, Andrew, Stephen and James.
Ultimately the weekend ended with Out To Swim 3rd overall on points, which is the best result, possibly ever at GB Nationals. However it was our team spirit, attitude and sportsmanship which captivated the officials and other club members. Everyone wanted to be part of OTS that weekend. Nearly half this team had never been to a National Master event before and this shows that anything can be achieved if the will is there. Everyone is looking forward to returning to Shortcourse Nationals 26-28th October in Sheffield, where we aim to have an even bigger team and look towards climbing the ladder from 3rd to Top Club in the country.
Report by Andrew Benson, Race Captain.