Six Masters from Hemel Hempstead Swimming Club competed at the European Masters Swimming Championships from 3rd – 6th September 2013 in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The competition, attended by nearly 4500 swimmers with over 15000 swims, delivered some record breaking times with new European Masters Records and World Masters Records been produced. Surprise competitors such as former World Record holder and four-time Olympic Champion Inge De Bruijn had also taken to the stage.
The Hemel Masters Team began the competition on a high with Bev McKenna achieving the first PB (personal best) of the competition, knocking 5 seconds off her 50 Backstroke. Annette Thatcher continued this good form throughout the championships with 5 top 10 finishes in the 60-64 age groups, narrowly missing out on third in both the 50 and 100 Freestyle. Dave Pirrie in the 55-59 age groups also produced top 10 finishes with a tenth place in the 200 Breaststroke and eighth in the 100 Breaststroke. James McFarlane produced a PB in his 50 Freestyle and Mark Ayres in his 100 Breaststroke. Rachel Barber, the youngest of the Masters, finished the championships off with a fabulous 100 Backstroke where she managed to achieve another PB.
Hemel were able to accumulate teams for the Mixed 4 x 50 Medley Relay and 4 x 50 Mixed Freestyle Relay in the age group 160-199. Both Relays saw a great team effort from every swimmer which gave for some exhilarating racing. In the Medley relay Bev, Dave, Mark and Rachel produced a new team PB which put them in thirtieth place. This team PB lifted the team spirit going into the Mixed Freestyle Relay which was led off by James and followed by Annette, Rachel and Dave who brought it back with an astonishing sub 30 swim. This brilliant performance from the team again produced another team PB and also placed them twenty third.
The Hemel Masters Team were supported throughout the championships by their coach Paul Mackie who also filmed all of the events so that he could provide detailed feedback on their races. Paul is an active member of the swimming club, he is the lead coach for the masters group and at the same time is in his final year of a Sports Science degree at the University of Bedfordshire.
The whole week saw some fantastic swims not only for Hemel Hempstead but from everyone competing. Congratulations to the Hemel Hempstead Masters on a very successful performance at the European Masters Swimming Championships in Eindhoven!