What are ‘Masters’? Masters are the people aged 25 years and upwards and are separated into age groups ranging from group A the 25 to 29 years age group, and increase in 5 year increments through the alphabet till age groups are created for the swimmers aged 90 and over. Yes there is a chance for some of you parents to compete.

Over the last few years a new age group has been introduced to bridge the gap between Age Group swimmers and Masters. This is the 19 to 24 years age group.

The level of competition ranges from local meets, to regional, national and even international meets and no matter the level you are only swimming for yourself representing your Club. Yes that is the only criteria required, is that you are a member of a Club affiliated to the national organisation, in our case the ASA.

The Colne ASC Masters Team currently comprises 9 members and they are starting at the youngest; Chris Wood who swam for the first time in Masters Competitions in the 19 to 24 years age group. Karen Driver who is in the 30 to 34 years age group and moves up next year. Bob Whittaker, Philip Croxall and Steve Smith who are all in the 35 to 39 years age group, Steve was also competing for the first time in about 10 years. In the 40 to 44 years age group is our ex-Irish International Aidan Towey who due to becoming a father hasn’t been able to compete, apparently little Ryan needs plenty of fatherly attention. Janet Kirk competes in the 45 to 49 years age group. Tony Catterall competes in the 55 to 59 years age group and moves up an age group for next year. Last but not least is John Penswick a.k.a. ‘Jack’ who competes in the 65 to 69 years age group. There is a tenth Colne ASC member competing in Masters Competitions and that is Jayne Whalley, but because she is a police officer, she represents GB Police. Jayne competes in the 30 to 34 years age group.

In January Bob and Philip competed in the Rotherham Masters Long Course event at Sheffield, which due to illness and injury was not a good competition for either swimmer. In February, Bob and Philip were yet again competing and this time they were joined by Tony, who finished 3rd overall in his age group.

In March the team travelled to Darlington for the Darlington Dolphin Masters. Chris competing in his first masters’ competition managed two 1sts, a 2nd and a 4th. Karen returned to competition after a 18 months out and achieved two 1sts, four 2nds and a 3rd. Philip just getting back to fitness attained two 1sts and two 3rds at best. Bob’s best results were a 2nd and a 3rd.

The first regional competition was the Yorkshire SA taking place in May in Scarborough, where Karen, Bob, Philip and John competed. Philip ended up with two 1sts, two 2nds and a 3rd place. John has two 1sts and 1 3rd. Karen had a 1st place, two 2nds and a 3rd. Whilst Bob only achieved a 2nd at best.

The Great Britain Long Course Masters Championship took place in June up in Glasgow. Only Philip and Tony took part. Tony attained 1st place in 200m Backstroke and 200m Butterfly, while Philip’s best result was 4th in 100m Breaststroke.

Five members travelled to Gateshead in June to take part in the Gateshead and Whickham Open Masters. Tony achieved eight 1sts and two 2nds. Karen has three 1sts, a 2nd and two 3rds. Philip only achieved two 2nds and a 3rd. Chris only had two 2nds at best. And Bob managed to finish 3rd in his only event and had to withdraw from the remaining competition due to injury.

The North East Counties ASA Masters Long Course Championship took place in July at the Leeds International dump pool. Karen finished 1st twice and 2nd twice. Chris finished 1st and 2nd, whilst Philip finished 1st once and 2nd three times.

The Short Course Championship took place two months later in Scarborough, where six members of the team competed. Steve Smith competing for the first time since a shoulder injury curtailed his swimming for about 10 years, won the 100m Freestyle with Philip 2nd and Bob 3rd. Philip also achieved three 1sts and another 2nd, and Bob also recorded a 1st and two 2nds. Karen finished 1st twice, 2nd three times. Janet finished 2nd twice and John finished 2nd three times.

In October Karen travelled to Macclesfield to compete in the Northern Counties Masters Championships and finished 1st four times, 2nd once and 3rd twice. She also set new personal bests for the 200m and 400m Freestyle of 2:26.82 and 5:06.47 respectively.

The final competition of the year was the National Masters Championships which took place at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield. Colne had its largest team to date with 7 members taking part. At this meet Karen was like a woman on a mission as she finished 3rd in all of her events. In the 1500m freestyle she set a new personal best of 19 min 39.72 and also set a new best at 400m of 5:05.81. In the 400m Freestyle she destroyed her personal best with a time of 4:56.38 and in the same race also lowered her 200m best to 2:25.35. And to round things of she smashed her personal best for 800m in 10:08.65, with her 200m and 400m splits beneath her old bests.

Tony finished 3rd in 1500m Freestyle, 2nd in 400m Individual Medley, 3rd in 200m Backstroke, 2nd in 200m Butterfly and 3rd in 800m Freestyle.

Chris finished 4th in 1500m Freestyle, 5th in 400m Freestyle and 4th in 800m Freestyle, all of which were new personal bests.

Bob finished 4th in 1500m Freestyle, 8th in 400m Freestyle and 5th in 800m Freestyle, all of which were new personal bests.

In the 100m Freestyle Steve finished 6th with Philip in 11th place with a new personal best of 59.60, which was also the first time ever under a minute. Philip also competed in the 100m Breaststroke finishing 13th and in the 200m Individual Medley where he finished 8th with a new Short Course personal best.

Jayne swimming for the GB Police finished 3rd in the 50m Freestyle and 50m Butterfly events with a 7th place in 50m Breaststroke.

Next year the team will have a new addition as Rachel Ingham will be eligible to compete in the 19 to 24 years age group.

With the first competition in January the team will prepare in their usual manner over the Christmas period. Who said it was all hard work!

The big competition will be the World Masters which will be taking place in San Francisco in August. A few members of the team have shown an interest in competing.